HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: The Autopsy of Jane Doe
HTS Overall Score:75
There are very few times that I’m truly bowled over by a modern horror movie. Part of me is still living in the past with golden “80s goggles” on and the modern horror genre has left me feeling very very cold in comparison. Sure, there’s a modern classic like “It Follows” or “The Babadook”, but most films aren’t ever going to ring my bell like those classic 80s flicks. Not to mention the fact that after you’ve seen so many horror films you can start to predict them rather easily and the scare factor is near zero. It’s just part of being “shocked” so many times that there really is very little new in the industry. I literally wrote “The Autopsy of Jane Doe” off the minute I heard about it, until the constant positive word of mouth made get curious. I will tell you that I was STILL rather cynically expecting a mediocre experience when I sat down and started spinning the disc, but it didn’t take 15 minutes before I started eating a serious plate of crow. “The Autopsy of Jane Doe” ended up being one of the better horror films of the last 10 years, and despite running into the age-old problem of explaining a little bit too much by the end of the flick, I haven’t had this good of a time watching a new horror film since “It Follows” a couple years back.
“The Autopsy of Jane Doe” is best watched instead of explained, so I’ll keep this short and sweet. There has been a home massacre in a small town in Virginia and the Police Chief has uncovered the naked body of a recently deceased young woman buried under the basement of the home. This young woman is taken to the father/son funeral home and morgue in the town run by Tommy Tilden (Brian Cox) and his adult son Austin (Emile Hirsch), where she becomes our “Jane Doe” of the movie. There’s some family back story and drama hinted at throughout the film, with Tommy being an apparent recent widower, and Austin is just about to spring the information on his dad that he’s going to leave their small-town life with his girlfriend Emma (Ophelia Lovibond). This is all about to change when Sheriff Burke brings in this mysterious woman and asks for a cause of death by the morning so he can get this massacre solved asap.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=96962[/img]What seems like a standard autopsy turns into something completely terrifying as the Tommy and Austin start to peel back the seemingly pristine flesh and start to realize that there is something “different” about this Jane Doe. Needless to say, this is not your typical autopsy. I’m going to zip my lips and keep what happens next a secret, but director Andre Ovredal (who’s most famous work so far has been the Norwegian fauxumentary “Trollhunter”) creates a magnificent buildup for what’s to come. The first half of the film is completely benign, and mostly clinical as the duo digs into the body with curiosity, but the sense of suspense and progression had me on the edge of my seat. I say this with all due respect, but there are few horror movies where I can’t predict what is coming next. Andre made it so that I was HONESTLY curious about the next find that the pair was going to unearth and was completely shocked when it happened.
Nothing really HAPPENS that would constitute as horror (unless you count the ooey gooey bits that come from dissecting a body for autopsy) until about the half way point of the film. Then it changes from intense horror/thriller to full on supernatural and the crazy stuff comes out. This is also the part where some predictability comes back into the film, mainly due to the writers over explaining a few too many things. I won’t say exactly what so as not to spoil the surprise, but there is a whole monologue from Brian Cox when they figure out WHO this Jane Doe is and, more importantly, WHAT she is that kind of stalls the movie a bit and brings back some of the much hated “familiar territory”. The good this is that it’s not TOOOOOO much predictability. There’s some twists and turns in the supernatural half of the film to have me thoroughly enjoying the end result despite an ending that doesn’t feel as awe inspiring as the first half of the film.
Rated R for bloody horror violence, unsettling grisly images, graphic nudity, and language
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=96970[/img]I could find no other information on the film besides that it was digitally shot, but the 1080p Blu-ray looks phenomenal, even with the obvious shoe string budget (digital fire being the only thing that made the movie look really cheap). 99.9% of the movie takes place in a couple of rooms in the underground portion of the Tilden mortuary, so there’s not a whole lot to break up the scenery. That means lots of dark portions with only sterile, artificial light to brighten up the cool blues of the darkness. Still, clarity is razor sharp and you can see every line and crease on the actor’s faces (even though there has been some obvious blurring of the body to make it look less sexual with a naked body lying there 99% of the time). Black levels are inky deep and full of lots of revealing shadow textures, and banding is kept to a bare minimum (usually only when a smoke-filled background comes into play, or when the dim lighting would show up against a totally black background).
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=96978[/img]It’s pretty much common knowledge by now, but I’ve come to expect the same two audio tracks for each and every Shout/Scream Factory release. A 5.1 DTS-HD MA lossless track, and the accompanying 2.0 DTS-HD MA for night listening (or being the original track depending on the age of the film and how it was recorded). The 5.1 mix is simply fantastic, with lots of depth and clarity to it. LFE is deep and throbbing, adding a fantastic low end to the ominous sounding score that just permeates the entire track. Vocals are crisp and clean, well placed in the center channel and free of any distortions. Surrounds are active with the humming/buzzing of underground lights, or the scraping of a metal door on the back wall. The film is pretty much MADE of these little nuanced sounds that come from all different directions at once seemingly. A well done horror track for certain.
• Trailers for Other Films
• TV Spots
• Theatrical Trailer
“The Autopsy of Jane Doe” certainly took me by surprise as I wasn’t expecting such a (mostly) novel film from such a stale genre. Emile Hirsh and Brian Cox work well together and Ovredal makes a refreshingly interesting flick from a well-worn material, which is much to his credit. The 2nd half of the film DOES have a few missteps in the predictability department, but there are enough great character moments throughout (there’s a fantastic scene with an axe that actually was really disturbing) that it doesn’t overshadow the overall quality of the rest of the movie. Scream Factory’s encode is well done and looks and sounds amazing on Blu-ray. My only complaint is that the extras are pretty much nonexistent except for a couple of trailers. Still VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Starring: Emile Hirsch, Brian Cox, Ophelia Lovibond
Directed by: André Øvredal
Written by: Ian B. Goldberg, Richard Naing
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, English DTS-HD MA 2.0
Studio: Scream Factory
Runtime: 86 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: May 2nd, 2017
Buy The Autopsy of Jane Doe On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Highly Recommended
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