Review: Stop What You’re Doing And Watch ‘The Autopsy of Jane Doe’

‘The Autopsy of Jane Doe’ Goes From Father/Son Drama To Mysterious Horror Quickly!

There’s a mystique to André Øvredal’s The Autopsy of Jane Doe‘ that’s refreshing. It’s scaled back and minimalistic but never lacks any intensity.

The story of ‘The Autopsy of Jane Doe‘ is simple; A father-and-son coroner duo are working late one night when a mysterious body arrivals at their morgue. The whole atmosphere of the film changes the second our Jane Doe is carted in.

Things start off very procedural. Tommy Tilden (Brian Cox) walks his son Austin Tilden (Emile Hirsch) and the viewers through the autopsy. It allows for a more personal connection but provides some of the film’s most horrifying moments. They begin to examine the body, coming up with a theory early on. But the more they dig into this case, the stranger it gets.

“We are just here to find cause of death. No more, no less.”
-Tommy Tilden (Brian Cox)

For a while, I didn’t know what sub-genre this horror film would dip into. Somehow, the filmmakers made something we’ve seen before feel brand new. I found myself attempting to compare ‘The Autopsy of Jane Doe‘ to other movies but could never place my finger on it. It takes references from others while still remaining unique.

It does remind me of the director André Øvredal’s other major film titled ‘Trollhunter‘. He took a monster movie and made it feel personal. Now, Øvredal takes an autopsy and thrusts us right into the coroner’s room.

Most of the compliments for this piece go to the amazing crew. Working with about 3 rooms within one building, the isolation felt in this comes to life with the direction, cinematography, and score. Going even deeper, major props have to go to the art department. The highlight for me being the gore. The grotesque special effects kept the film grounded when others would have taken it more over-the-top. This movie knows how to engage without giving too much!

As the two examiners have great back-and-forth with each other, we learn a lot about the characters through their investigation to what killed this Jane Doe. Just through this one night of work, you get a great feel for Emile Hirsch and Brian Cox’s characters. Their different styles of working and perspectives about this case deliver the perfect amount of character exposition while also propelling the plot forward.

Their relationship works and never dives into unneeded tropes. Same goes for the scares. There’s a few jumps but they’re placed in-between honest fear and intense body horror. It goes with the whole subtle motif…having too many typical tropes would have blown up the piece and take away from the simplistic thrills.

Final Thoughts:

Maybe all the horror genre needs it a bit more subtlety. What ‘The Autopsy of Jane Doe‘ did well was deliver big ideas within a small premise. That’s how you get the most out of your film. Throwing everything at the screen and hoping something sticks can and will lose your audience but carefully picking out your moments like this did will engage more viewers.

Supernatural horror is cluttered with over-produced projects that the simplicity of ‘The Autopsy of Jane Doe‘ feels like a breath of fresh air. This is a must-watch for me and could be a late addition for one of the year’s best horror films!

Synopsis: Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch play father and son coroners who receive a mysterious homicide victim played by Olwen Kelly.

Genre: Horror
Country: USA
Director: André Øvredal
Starring: Emile Hirsch, Brian Cox, Ophelia Lovibond, and Olwen Kelly

The Autopsy of Jane Doe‘ is available for purchase/rent on Google Play, Youtube, and iTunes! Find the film on Twitter at @IFCMidnight!

EJ Moreno
EJ Moreno
Who is EJ Moreno? Is he a trained physician? No. Is he a former Miss Universe contestant? Possibly. With a bachelors degree in film and a love of pop culture, he brings an alternative view to the world of pop culture journalism. Follow him on Twitter @EJKhryst and check out his film work at