The Autopsy of Jane Doe
Starring Emily Hirch, Brian Cox, Ophelia Lovibond, Olwen Catherine Kelly, Michael McElhatton
The latest horror genre debut in the dump ground known as January. The Autopsy of Jane Doe is a swift horror flick that focuses on a father and son team of medical examiners working out of their creepy old home. It’s essentially The X Files meet Six Feet Under. Hirsch (Into the Wild) and Cox (X-Men United) don’t act in their roles as much as they react to sounds, unexplained events and movie magic. Neither actor is given the opportunity to invest in their respective characters as both just push the story toward some inevitable ending that doesn’t really explain anything as much as it sets itself up for another installment.
Sheriff Sheldon (McElhatton) of backwoods Virginia has discovered a body buried in the basement of a gruesome family murder. The unidentified Jane Doe is promptly delivered to the Tilden mortuary for autopsy. Widower Tommy (Cox) and his son Austin (Hirsch) Tilden were about to close-up shop for the evening when the body is brought in. They begin a routine check of the young woman and notice oddities like her wrists and ankles are completely shattered, although no exterior bruising is present. Her eyes are grey in color, which shocks Tommy who has been in this business for a generation. With each body part, they become more curious and confused how this woman looks so normal on the outside but is basically tortured on the inside.
It should have been called Father and Son hide behind doors, because when our lead characters are not dissecting the woman’s body, they are running from noises and ghostly figures.
It should have been called Father and Son hide behind doors, because when our lead characters are not dissecting the woman’s body, they are running from noises and ghostly figures. “We are way past possible,” Austin says at one point, as they struggle to explain both the inconclusive autopsy and the events that take place in the underground laboratory. There isn’t much depth to the story, and much like a script adapted from a play, this tale is confined to such a small area, it doesn’t allow much in the way of creativity or expansion. The pulling apart of flesh and organs certainly provides the willing audience an opportunity to be squeamish, but as far as caring about the outcome of these two men, that part is left untouched.
The Autopsy of Jane Doe is slightly above your run of the mill slasher movies, but tries to accomplish more than it’s capable of. It feels like a chapter out of a larger, more interesting whole. It’s the type of pocket thriller you expect to show up as a midnight feature at a film festival, not something you would pay full price for at the theater. Like many times on episodes of The X Files, Dana Scully talks about how a dead body is like a puzzle that needs solving, this script abandons this concept too quickly so they can run from mysterious figures. Will Smith’s Concussion tapped into this last year, but this film misses the opportunity to truly be frightening or even interesting with its focus on the supernatural.
A dull horror film without depth or creative genius.