Saturday, 11 February 2017

Horror Review - The Autopsy of Jane Doe

(The Autopsy of Jane Doe, 2016, André Øvredal. Picture found at:

It's not often that a horror film doesn't make it to the cinema or at least isn't constantly harassing you via TV ads,  but lately, this screams that it could be a possible indie gem that isn't constantly reliant on jump-scares - like The Babadook or Hush - both of which I recommend, but André Øvredal's The Autopsy of Jane Doe is in a field of it's own.

Starring ex-University of Dundee rector Brian Cox - and what a lovely man he is - along with Emile Hirsch (Into The Wild). The plot is fairly self-explanatory, a shock discovery of an unnamed - hence, Jane Doe - woman's body is brought into the small town morgue where father-son coroners Tommy Tilden (Cox) and son Austin (Hirsch) are just about to finish up for the night - classic one that, right? Well the exhausting horror tropes are few and far between, the scarcity of them are actually almost welcome once things start to get funky.

The soaring aspect of this film that put it on a pedestal above other recent horrors I've watched was the realism the two leads have in their actions. There's no, oh I'll go off on my own when some weird shit is going down, because let's face it, that's crazy! Every decision that was made was justified and the fact that I sat there like "yep, that's exactly what I'd do" made it immeasurably more terrifying. Knowing that you would follow the same footsteps as a character connects you to their fate all the more-so, I'd never experienced anything quite like it to be honest. As an audience, we are always putting ourselves into the character's shoes, judging, criticising, in horror films especially and not being able to find faults in their actions was unsettling.

A perfectly condensed cast of less than ten characters in total - including Stanley the Cat which is a terrific name for a cat if you ask me - and everyone in the film, including Stanley, is very capable. Independence doesn't become something you fear too much from a character, making you trust in their abilities just as much as you doubt their outcome.

The cinematography is defiantly - yes, I meant defiantly not definitely - different from others in the genre. Music is scarce, and it makes sense considering they're in a morgue, and refreshing that it isn't heavily relied on as a tension builder. This deathly silence adds a gruesome impact to the sounds of the film, from slicing autopsy procedures to a simple breeze of air - you could cut the tension with a scalpel. Colours are muted, again it's a morgue, you find yourself isolated in this underground complex which is all the more unknown considering not many people have visited a morgue. The main body of the film is all set in this one space, making the audience frighteningly familiar with the environment, the smallest change makes for a tremendous impact.

The Autopsy of Jane Doe is a late shout for the strongest horror film of last year in my opinion and running at around one and a half hours it doesn't seem too daunting to jump into. I highly recommend this film and urge you to watch it, the fact it went so unnoticed makes it the perfect kind of film for a horror movie night with friends as it's likely nobody will know what's creeping around the coroner.

Liam Biddle

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