Just like John Smith, Jane Doe is the generic name for an unknown female or when giving an example of an individual. Jane Doe finally reveals her cold, lifeless visage in “The Autopsy of Jane Doe”, and it was well worth the wait.
Tommy Tilden (the excellent Brian Cox; “The Ring”, “Troy”, “Braveheart”) and his son, Austin (Emile Hirsch; “Killer Joe”, “Alpha Dog”), are a father and son duo of coroners who perform autopsies on the basement level of their home; career and location which has been passed down through generations in the family. Austin keeps learning to dig deeper (literally) into corpses to determine the correct cause of death, no matter what his first theory may be. Just as he is about to leave the family morgue to catch a movie with his girlfriend, one of the town’s cops brings a fresh new corpse to the home and demands to get the C.O.D. (cause of death) by morning. Austin decides to stay with his father to take a look at this mysterious cadaver, and that’s when things really get weird.
Director André Øvredal (who also directed “Troll Hunter”, which I enjoyed very much) does a fantastic job at setting a tense, creepy mood. The soundtrack is, at times, rockin’ it out, as father and son perform their every day job of dissecting lifeless human bodies, and other times dark and moody, raising the hairs on the back of your neck. Constant shots of Jane Doe’s inert, lifeless face keep adding to the discomfort of the scenes, even though it constantly seems as if she’s going to begin twitching out of the blue. When bodies that were supposed to remain stored away begin to limp around the morgue, Øvredal is keen on keeping a suspenseful, palpable atmosphere. Too often, movies give away any exciting build-up to an up-close revelation of the antagonists too early in the film, killing off any potential anticipation that could have built up. This is not the case in “The Autopsy of Jane Doe”. Only glimpses of the reanimated corpses are exposed to the viewer as the movie progresses, succeeding at doing a lot from showing a little.
To add to all of this, the plot keeps thickening as father and son discover new and disturbing particularities within Jane Doe’s body, seeming flawless from the outside. An interesting storyline that keeps a firm grasp on your attention and interest from beginning to end. Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch bring forth brilliant performances and have you quickly attached to their characters from the get-go.
Do not miss the release of “The Autopsy of Jane Doe” this Thursday, December 21st, as I attribute 4 stars out of 5 to this dazzling horror movie.