OLD SCHOOL REVIEW: Autopsy ofJane Doe
André Øverdal slices into American horror by directing his first English speaking film – The Autopsy of Jane Doe. Premiering this year at TIFF, “… Jane Doe” is a claustrophobic horror that plays with reality, and may or may not leave us confused and wanting more.
After an average family of four in rural Virginia is brutally murdered, police discover the body of a half buried young woman in the basement, and proceed to deliver her to the local morgue. It is here we are introduced to our two main characters – Tony Tilden (played by Brian Cox), and his son Austin (Emile Hirsch). Given a midnight deadline by the sheriff (Michael McElhatton) to figure out what’s happened, Austin postpones a date with his girlfriend Emma (Ophelia Lovibond) to help his father with the last minute forensic analysis.
Unbeknownst to them, this puzzle will not be easy to solve. On the outside, our Jane Doe is perfect – no cuts, no bruises. However, as Tony and Austin cut deeper into her, they realize she holds dark and mysterious secrets. From there, the audience will wish they were able to escape the workspace like the protagonists try to do.
The story given to us by Ian Goldberg, and Richard Naing, is brought to life in a suspenseful way by Øverdal and his crew. As the Tilden men dig deeper into the mystery of Jane Doe, the audience can only helplessly sit and watch as each new clue leads to another consequence. An applause must be given to production designer, Matt Gant, who entraps the audience into the film, making them aware how open and vulnerable the characters are to danger. Hats also need to be tipped to editor Patrick Larsgaard, who cuts when needed and holds for when we wish we could look away – whether in shock or in sadness. Roman Osin and his use of wider shots engulf us into the scenes, making for truly observant moments.
Though Cox and Hirsch have a wonderful chemistry on screen that breaks your heart and makes you smile at the same time, it is the silent predator – Olwen Kelly, who plays Jane Doe – that steals the show. Though lying on an autopsy table, Kelly’s corpse leaves us chilled by how much personality can come from a lifeless human we know nothing about.
After reaching the midpoint of the film, the rest could end up going downhill for some, as the plot takes weird dips and turns, yet manages to hold onto suspense. However, do not let this possible fear edge you away from seeking out the film. The Autopsy of Jane Doe is no doubt a fine piece of modern horror cinema. Picked up by IFC, the film is now available for rent or purchase on VOD for only $6.99.
My Personal Rating: 4.5/5