The Autopsy of Jane Doe


In truthfulness, I watched this ages ago, but never wrote a post on it (shame!). I had the opportunity to revisit the film with a friend recently, and realized that this needed a good solid write-up, because this is a good film!

The Autopsy of Jane Doe opens with police on the scene of a gruesome murder. It's a small town, so everyone knows one another and the cops just can't figure out why the victims would have all murdered one another. One of the investigators comments on the fact that it looks like everyone was trying to get OUT of the home, rather than invaders coming IN. Can I just take a moment to interject here? This line gave me the CHILLS. There's something horrifying about the idea of people you know and love becoming your worst enemy. Anyway, shortly after this terrifying comment, the team finds a body in the basement - Jane Doe. From there the film moves to a local coroner's office, and the father and son who are charged with doing Jane Doe's autopsy. As they move further along into the procedure, things get freaky.

All of the performances in the film are great, but I was most blown away by actress Olwen Kelly, who plays Jane Doe. Yeah, that's a real person you're looking at about 90% of the film. Her ability to "play dead" gives the film a terrifying center, an uncanniness that would be difficult to achieve had director André Øvredal used a prop instead.

The Autopsy of Jane Doe is FUN. It's all atmosphere and spookiness and mood, wrapped up in a (somewhat) thin plot. The film is very "present moment" - never offering viewers a very deep glimpse into the background of our titular character. This isn't a bad thing at all - sometimes all you want is to pop a big bowl of popcorn and watch something that will give you a few scares, and that you don't have to write a dissertation on to unpack.

But even for Overthinkers, the film offers something to think about. What makes a monster? Are they created, or are they born? And if they are created by others, and end up doing terrible things, should they be met with fear or with sympathy? The film itself doesn't delve deeply into this idea, and offers no clear answers on its stance on the topic, but it certainly hands Overthinkers an interesting path for reflection to go down if they so choose.

I enjoyed Autopsy of Jane Doe immensely! It's one of the finer plot-driven horror films I've seen in recent memory, and is worth taking a peek at, if you haven't already!