Horror Movie Review: The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)


This movie has amassed a decent amount of praise since its release late last year. It currently holds a very respectable 84% approval rate on Rotten Tomatoes. I probably wouldn’t have even heard of it had it not made many reputable horror sites top movies of 2016 lists. Some even went as far as to rate it the best horror movie of 2016. Other than knowing its name and that it was rated highly I had no idea what it was even about. Let’s have a look at The Autopsy of Jane Doe and see if it lived up to my high expectations.

It’s just another night at the morgue for a father (Tommy – Brian Cox) and son (Austin – Emile Hirsch) team of coroners, until an unidentified, highly unusual corpse comes in.

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Discovered buried in the basement of the home of a brutally murdered family, the young Jane Doe is eerily well preserved with no visible external signs of trauma.

As they work into the night to piece together the cause of her death, the two men begin to uncover the disturbing secrets of her life. Soon, a series of terrifying events make it clear: this Jane Doe may not be dead at all.

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If you’ve seen this film then most will agree, it is no surprise it was rated as one of the best horror movies of 2016. This is something that I have now discovered.

The movie manages to be intriguing almost immediately. You witness the police officers uncover Jane Doe’s strangely well preserved, half buried corpse.  The scenario that is presented raises all manner of possibilities in your mind. You’ll attempt to figure out what might have taken place.

Austin has a girlfriend that is intrigued about the work that he does. She even goes as far as to request to see one of the corpses in the morgue. Austin is apprehensive but his father insists that it’s fine seemingly allowing her to get the curiosity out of her system. She notices a bell attached to the toe of one of the corpses and asks why it is there. This leads to Tommy explaining that it is simply an old fashioned coroner superstition to ensure that corpses were indeed dead. If you were to hear the ringing of the bell, it would mean that they had made a dreadful mistake.

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I really enjoyed story, not only is it undeniably creepy but it has a purpose. Also, it leads to further creepiness later in the film.

With the word “Autopsy” in your title you’d expect that there would be a little bit of gore on display. This film does indeed have a little bit of gore on display; in fact it has a lot of it. I would go as far as to say that it’s not exactly for the faint of heart. The entire autopsy scene lasts a long time with  close up shots that detail the incredible practical effects used throughout. The execution of the scene feels extremely professional and genuine.

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As Tommy & Austin work their way through what they believe will be a routine job, they continuously uncover new eerie details about the Jane Doe that only serve to raise more questions of her origins. As things go from mysterious to downright strange, the father and son are mentally tested in a number of ways.

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I found The Autopsy of Jane Doe to be immensely engrossing from start to finish. It manages to create a wonderfully thick atmosphere as well as keep you guessing from the very start, to the open for interpretation end.

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It is tremendously difficult to craft original and unique horror films these days. This is something that the movie has managed to do. It has flaws and some more glaring than others, depending on your stance on what actually took place or didn’t. It takes a little bit of time to really get going but it’s worth the build up. I always find the most effective horror movies are the ones that are set in a single location with a simplistic concept. This movie supports that theory in my opinion.

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The Autopsy of Jane Doe
  • 8/10
    The Final Score - 8/10
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