Written Review: “The Autopsy of Jane Doe”
I remember hearing about this film in 2016 during it’s initial release, and it stuck in the back of my head until I found out it was available to watch on Netflix in 2019. Damn, finally! And it was a great movie, I really enjoyed it and had fun watching it. It is filled with mystery, suspense, incredible cinematography, and a woman’s body having it’s organs removed. Not quite “gory” but it’s good enough for me!
The performances are good, all around. Apart from the girlfriend, who was pretty awkward and to me they could have met literally that day by the way they gravitated around each other and talked to each other, it was all good! I really love Brian Cox is any genre, and I was pleased to see him in a starring role. HIs relationship with his son was believable, but his son was just kind of there, doing nothing but building from what Brian Cox says and does. What is it, his first day?
Since this film’s timeline is only one day (or less) there isn’t much room for character growth, however, stories from the father’s past reflects on the son’s current behavior. Let me explain.
Midway through the film we find out the mother/wife killed herself however many years ago – maybe I missed that. She was depressed and either never expressed her feelings to her husband (Brian Cox) or he never asked, or both. So no help was received, and she killed herself. Now, present, the kid blows off his girlfriend (we understand this happens multiple times) so he can go work on bodies with his dad. So after many years, this could possibly cripple their relationship, I mean yes, helping your dad is good, but he literally told you to go so fucking go, like just fucking go. So, did the wife/mother kill herself because there was such a disconnect in their relationship because the dad would rather work on a body than spend time with his wife? I mean I know it’s his job, but with the way they work it seems they can complete an autopsy in like 4-6 hours or less. I’m going to put my conspiracy theory out there and say yes, their work which is obsession-like is the likely reason relationships or lives are ended.
So, there were a couple things that the movie went for that I wish it wouldn’t have. But, I get why it did these things, because it’s kind of unavoidable in a movie taking place in a morgue. The first was: corpses in the morgue coming to life. I saw it coming, but I was hoping they wouldn’t do that, but they did do it, and when they do something like that, there’s nothing MORE TO DO. The film has pretty good pacing until the point where the bodies start to get up and move around, which is where things kind of stumble along until the movie reaches it’s climax. The next thing that came out as a weak point were the damn jump scares. Pitiful.
Now that my complaints are out of the way, let’s talk about the more interesting aspects of the story that really worked in this movie.
There is some great suspense and mystery within this story, and if the suspense works it keeps me engaged (and hopefully other viewers, too) until I start to figure shit out. There is so much that adds to the “atmosphere” of the movie, other than it being set in a morgue, it was kind of made to feel more normal, with the father and son working to the tune of the radio, lighthearted banter, and overall upbeat attitudes while doing the deed (of the autopsies, I mean.) The radio, however, is the first to go, freakishly changing channels, losing reception, even talking to them, warning them of danger. At a certain point VERY early on, I would have turned that shit off.
The bell around the ankle of a corpse is also a great detail I *sort of* liked. It was a cool piece of morgue lore, and it kind of went hand-in-hand with the creepy “I’ve seen this before…” stories we get from Brian Cox’s character. Yes the bell is wrapped around the ankle of a coma victim? patient? to make sure they’re dead, but it was also customary in the 18th and 19th century to attach a bell to a coffin, known as a “safety coffin” so if a person who was buried was still alive, they could ring the bell and be rescued (or cause a vampire rumor in the neighboring villages) but either way, clever!
A couple more things…I am really not that disappointed that Jane Doe is a witch, I wasn’t even expecting that, my mind being 100% stuck on the fact that she may have been a botched human sacrifice (but not like Jennifer’s Body) until they somehow figured out she was a witch and STILL ALIVE! But also dead. Which leads me into my next thought, THANK YOU FOR NOT MOVING! THANK YOU FOR STAYING CORPSE-LIKE! You don’t have to move, speak, or blink to do super powerful witchcraft. You don’t even have to do a tiny eye move or nostril twitch. Thank you for staying still on that table the whole time but being a vessel of fear and evil.
The twist at the end is great, having to sacrifice yourself, because she was a sacrifice. It was great that only one person had to die, but because of her causing all this crazy psychosis and hallucinations, they killed the girlfriend (which was fine, I wasn’t expecting her to die, I expected her to be the one to save them) and then the dad and son. Once the radio said that there was only SUN I freaked, because that storm lasted the whole damn night I thought it was real but fuck no she was fucking with us the whole time! And after all was said and done, I understood the beginning, the reasoning why no one was left alive, and the reason why she was in pristine condition on the outside. Very very fucking cool indeed.
But…why did the cat have to die? *cries*
The visuals, the cinematography, the camera cuts, it’s very very nice to look at. It’s like reading a good book, with a first paragraph that sucks you in, the first shots of the film had me and I didn’t look away until it was over. The actual anatomy during the autopsy scene is fantastic, and as far as I can tell with my limited autopsy knowledge, pretty damn realistic. And I know it’s not considered “gory” it was good enough for me!
Well, the one thing that was huge was having a family member commit suicide without their child or spouse knowing they are sick or depressed and not seeking help. And I guess mistaking your son’s girlfriend for a zombie corpse and axing it/her to death. Big oops. And finally, witchcraft. Yeah, very scary.
All in all I give this an Aww yeah, that fucked me up! Watch it, and if you don’t have fun, I’ll be waiting.