The 2016 movie “The Autopsy of Jane Doe,” is often branded as a horror film, but some find that director André Øvredal created a psychological thriller with tasteful horror aspects. 

The film follows a father-son duo, played by Brian Cox (Tommy) and Emile Hirsch (Austin) respectively. The two work together as coroners at the father’s business. 

One of the only scenes that happens outside of the morgue is in the opening of the film where police are investigating a gruesome murder of a family. While investigating the scene they discover a body half-buried in the basement. Unlike the brutal scene in the rest of the house this body is pristine and doesn’t seem to be related to the other murders.

This discovery becomes known as Jane Doe. 

The police bring Jane Doe to Tommy and Austin and as they perform the autopsy things start to get increasingly eerie. After opening her up they find that her pristine exterior is extremely misleading as she has blackened lungs, a severed tongue and many other brutal internal injuries. The further along with the autopsy they get the worse things become in the morgue as it seems to stir with life.  

The colors of the film are dark and muted adding to the unsettling vibes by creating opportunities for questionable shadows. Unlike many other movies in the horror/thriller genre the music isn’t a prominent feature, ensuring that every bone snap and other gruesome sound is heard. If you’re looking to be genuinely scared, unsettled or otherwise challenged by a movie this is a great one for you.

Fans of the genre will appreciate the well constructed scares and the willingness of the main characters to admit to themselves that something is wrong. There are a few jumpscares that are well timed and unpredictable. Be warned that there is a fair amount of body horror at times but none of it feels unnecessary. 

Throughout the film you get little clues that will keep you guessing until the end. Another dark emotional experience explored in this film is grief. Austin’s mother had died previously due to her battle with depression.

During the chaos in the morgue there is a moment where Tommy has to confront his emotions about the loss of his wife. Without spoiling too much of the plot, many events in the morgue are illusions or hallucinations. As Austin and Tommy start to piece things together the chaos escalates and death for the main characters seems likely.  

While watching “The Autopsy of Jane Doe,” be sure to listen carefully to the radio when it randomly turns on or changes channels. You don’t want to miss any clues, so pay close attention to the shadows and sounds. You’re sure to be startled by the sound of bells ringing after watching this film. 

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