A father and son, both coroners, are pulled into a complex mystery while attempting to identify the body of a young woman, who was apparently harboring dark secrets.
Title :The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)
Release : 21 December 2016
Writers: Ian B. Goldberg
Stars : Emile Hirsch, Brian Cox, Ophelia Lovibond
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The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016) trailer
The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016) review
Fantastic Fest offers diverse programming every year, introducing audiences to genre films from across the world, including Asia and Spain. However, it’s the Nordic films that I find to be quite engaging and impressive in their tone and approach. This year’s The Autopsy of Jane Doe is further proof that the Norwegian film industry is strong and noteworthy.
Director André Øvredal debuted his comedic horror fantasy Trollhunter at Fantastic Fest in 2010, and returned this year with his English language debut of The Autopsy of Jane Doe, a supernatural horror story intertwined with family drama. Father and son coroners Tony and Austin Tilden (portrayed by Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch) work together in their family-owned morgue located in a small town in Virginia. Austin has decided that he wants to move on from the family business, but struggles with his commitment to his father after the tragic and unexpected loss of his mother.
One dark and stormy night they receive an unidentified female corpse, found half-buried in the basement of a house where several brutally murdered bodies have been found. The woman’s body appears to be unscathed, with no apparent signs of trauma or cause of death. Any initial assumptions are quickly dispelled as they further examine the body and discover odd clues into her history and death. As they unravel her story, supernatural happenings begin to occur, resulting in their own lives being in jeopardy.
The narrative develops from the pair’s growing obsession with the unconventional corpse, which has an unexpected impact on both their psyches and their surroundings. The cinematography of Roman Osin and precision editing cultivates horror for viewers, helplessly watching father and son become victim to a more sinister element. Tight shots in one room provides the perfect setting to feel engulfed by the horror as it unfolds.
The practical FX as well as the prosthetic and practical work of The Autopsy of Jane Doe are phenomenal. I genuinely felt that Jane Doe was a true presence, committing to suspension of disbelief and never being drawn out of the moment by the prosthetic work. Cox and Hirsch were well-matched as father and son, with a very genuine chemistry. It was also refreshing that we don’t witness the stereotypical conflict between an aging father and a young man coming of age. The characters are portrayed as being close and Cox and Hirsch convey that with relaxed but polished finesse.
While I was a bit hesitant to watch a film with such a visceral name describing what I could expect, I am quite glad that I did. The Autopsy of Jane Doe is definitely at the top of my 2016 Fantastic Fest Favorites. This gripping horror story engages the audience fully by connecting to its protagonists Tony and Austin.