If I wasn’t already convinced that morgues are no place for me to spend any of my time, I sure am now.
Basic Synopsis: Father and son, Tommy and Austin (played by Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch), spend a dark and stormy night trying to figure out the cause of death for the mysterious girl brought to their autopsy table.
Brief Thoughts: The Autopsy of Jane Doe is a small, contained horror film that has a lot of fun with its one location. It does go a little out there with their explanation for what is happening, but I’ll buy it because I enjoyed following Cox and Hirsch as they’re terrified by the dead bodies they’re watching over. And one thing I definitely appreciated as the person who will jump straight to “it’s zombies!” at the first sign of cannibalism and/or missing bodies, is that it didn’t take long for the two to try and get the Hell out of there when the unexplainable starts to happen. No naysayers here.
Quick Question: Does Olwen Catherine Kelly really lay there for the entirety of the filming of this movie? I’m assuming not for the practical effects of the autopsy, but still, I don’t think I could be still for that long.
Follow Up Question: How many times did she accidentally fall asleep while filming?
Dear God, the Noises!: This movie is definitely not one for the squeamish. If the visuals of organs being removed from an open chest cavity aren’t bad enough, the noises of cracking ribs and a saw cutting through a skull will definitely do you in. I get shivers running through my body just thinking about it.
Is There A Dog In This Horror Film?: Nope, but there’s a cat. And I may not be a cat person, but that doesn’t mean I wanted to see any harm come to Stanley! (Spoilers) Speaking of this death, why was Stanley killed anyway? Later in the movie we learn that the girl was doing the equivalent amount of harm to the person who did harm to her. We never saw Stanley anywhere near the body, and I doubt he would’ve done anything to her anyway, so what gives? One explanation is that she returned the damage Stanley did to the rat he killed at the beginning of the movie, but she wasn’t there to actually witness that. Besides, cats are often considered familiars to witches, so I’m leaning away from this possibility. I’d say the best guess is that the rat came back to life like the other corpses and got its revenge. If that’s the case, I am super bummed we didn’t see zombie rat.
Let’s Talk About That Ending (SPOILERS): I can’t be the only one that hates when horror films do something like what The Autopsy of Jane Doe does by having her toe twitch in the last shot of the movie. At least, in most cases, when a horror film opens the eyes of its killer in the last frame of the film it signals that there’s more to come, it makes sense within the world of the film, even if their survival is super unlikely. But here, the toe twitch makes absolutely no sense.
The only explanation for the toe twitch that works in the context of the film is just to signify that if she wanted to, she could get up off the autopsy table and walk away at any time. But returning to a normal life isn’t actually her goal, as I first suspected. All she wants to do is make people suffer. That’s why after Tommy sacrifices himself she doesn’t come back to life. And why after she then goes on to kill Austin and the police finally arrive on the scene she is back to the condition she was in when she first arrived. So I can understand the toe twitch, if this is what it even means, but I still think it wasn’t the right choice. From moment one she never moves, not once, so why start in the final frame of the movie?
Double Feature: I was going to say to go with The Lazarus Effect if you’re looking for a movie with a similar feel to it, but since I didn’t really like that one I am going to instead recommend another film by the director of The Autopsy of Jane Doe, Trollhunter. Very different, but also very good.
Final Thoughts: The Autopsy of Jane Doe is a nice little horror film that will gross you out with a different type of gore.