Plot: What’s it about?
There are times when I look at my “to be reviewed” pile and roll my eyes. Nothing against my “job”, but sometimes it’s nice to flip through a few thousand channels and take a break – you know, to watch a movie. This was the case late last year and my wife and I found a movie on demand entitled The Autopsy of Jane Doe. She’s a sucker for scary films and it looked interesting, had a well-known cast and we figured “what the hell.” So we rented it and, well, were pretty taken by how much this little film can reel you in and not let you go. Directed by André Øvredal, best-known for his 2010 film Trollhunter, this epitomizes the “less is more” approach to a tee. Without further ado, let’s do our examination.
Tommy and Austin Tilden (Emile Hirsch and Brian Cox respectively) are a father/son duo of coroners. In the rural town of Grantham, Virginia (where seemingly nothing happens), they work together well and certainly better than any father and son should. Tommy has plans to leae the “family business” with his girlfriend, but he has some reservations about what might happen with his Dad when that happens. This, however, takes a backseat when a bizarre dead body arrives. Found on the site of a triple murder, this body has no cuts, bruises or anything that could be considered a “cause of death.” The sheriff (Michael McElhatton) drops her off and wants to know what happened. So the Tilden’s get to work performing the autopsy all the while encountering some rather supernatural things that seem to start happening. Clearly there’s something different about this corpse, but the Tilden’s can’t put their finger on it.
You don’t need jump cuts, loud noises or anything out of the ordinary to get to the heart of a horror movie. There’s something about a minimalist approach to a film that really can have more of an impact on the viewer than something that’s totally in your face. One of my recent favorites is Let the Right One In, a foreign film that was remade as an American movie, Let Me In. The way the film was shot and some of the scenes still profoundly impact me. There’s a lot of that film in this one. Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch work well with one another and in less capable hands, this could have been a mess. But instead it’s a nice little horror movie that’s well worth the price of admission.
Video: How’s it look?
I’ve never seen the inside of a morgue and I suppose when I’m in one, I won’t have to worry about what it looks like. That said, the majority of the film takes place inside the father/son morgue and it looks frightfully real. The somewhat sterile greenish environment is a stark contrast to the pale “dead” skin of Jane Doe. Color saturation is a bit more than I expected. The red flannel on Emile Hirsch’s shirt really seems a deep, dark red. Detail is impeccable and the general aura is more lifelike, for lack of a better term, than I’d thought. It’s a good-looking transfer.
Audio: How’s it sound?
By and large, this is a dialogue-driven film and the main two characters have the lion’s share of the vocals. While some surround noises persist, the DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack does have a few moments to shine, but I won’t divulge what those are lest I spoil a surprise or two. It’s a basic, yet powerful, mix that’s sure to please – it did with me.
Supplements: What are the extras?
It’s a shame that this disc didn’t come with more supplemental features. Shout! is known for going above and beyond, but perhaps there were some licensing issues? The trailer is all we get.
- Theatrical Trailers
The Bottom Line
Horror doesn’t get more basic than this. This is a pretty intense psychological drama that will stay with you long after the credits roll. While the disc looks and sounds great, the lack of supplements (aside from a trailer) are a bit disappointing. Still, at the very least, a rental is recommended.