Movie Review: The Autopsy of Jane Doe

The Autopsy of Jane Doe, directed by André Øvredal, isn’t a film for those who frighten easily or, due to the surgical nature, have a strong case of hemophobia. Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch play a father and son coroner duo in Øvredal’s film, but little did they know the surprise they would be in for them when they performed an autopsy on a young woman, Jane Doe, whose identity is as mysterious as her death. Straying the lines between thriller and horror, what the film delivers in it’s genre ambiguity is its ability to deliver some shocking surprises.

The movie takes place in a morgue that appears to be the home of Austin (Hirsch) and Tommy Tilden (Cox). Set in a dark and brooding basement morgue, the film quickly casts an eerie atmosphere which would have sustained itself further had it not suffered from lighting issues in the back half of the film.

The unlikely pairing of Cox and Hirsch works well with the twos opposing energies working strongly juxtapose next to one another-a necessity when the entirety of the film is largely the two working against one another. Cox plays his character straight and matter-of-fact; he’s seen it all and isn’t fazed by anything, giving the character a sense of lived in gravitas as the script offered nuance into his profession.

The Autopsy of Jane Doe moves at a clip rivaling a roller coaster.  Just when you think it’s heading one way and fits a genre, it flips on you and takes you in another direction. These sort of unexpected plot shifts kept things interesting and helps defy expectations as a chilling portrayal in a not often seen concept. The general feeling of uneasiness is manifested throughout, leaving its audience in a persistent state of anxiety.

The movie stands on it’s own, separating itself from the pack of body horror films and in that sense, offering something different.The plot progressions were intact with the eventual climactic revelation. The Autopsy of Jane Doe is enticingly uncomfortable. Despite the oftentimes sickening nature of the film it’s certainly one that is one to seek out, even if it’s advisable to go on an empty stomach.

Rating: 7/10

Jim Alexander is one of the co-founders of the Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle (CIFCC). He has been a staff writer at since 2014. He helped develop and host the “Correct Opinion Podcast.” Jim has written for and contributed to the Australian movie site He is the United States Film and Entertainment Reporter for BBC’s 5 Live radio show. In addition to his interest in film, he also hosts the “Bachelor Universe” blog and podcast, centered on the ABC show The Bachelor. Jim graduated with a MA in Journalism from DePaul University. He is a die-hard Chicago Bulls and Bears fan. Born in Chicago, but raised in Poland, he grew up playing soccer and remains an avid fan of the sport. He is passionate about film and strives to incorporate new and innovative ways to present film criticism. He currently resides in a suburb outside of Chicago, IL.
  • Trinkar

    This has got to be one of the worst-written reviews I have ever read. And morticians do not do autopsies; they prepare bodies for burial.