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Haunted Sideshow

Dustin Putman

The Autopsy of Jane Doe  (2016)

Reviewed for by Dustin Putman

The Film
3 Stars
(Release Date: May 2, 2017 as Walmart Exclusive; June 27, 2017 Everywhere) – It is best to know as little as possible about "The Autopsy of Jane Doe" prior to seeing it. The title gives just enough away, and the rest should ideally be discovered alongside its two lead characters, father-son coroners Tommy (Brian Cox) and Austin (Emile Hirsch), as they investigate the cause of death of a mysterious unidentified woman buried in the basement of a home where a family has been found brutally murdered. Director André Øvredal (2011's "Trollhunter") and screenwriters Ian Goldberg and Richard Naing have made a horror-mystery of elegant craftsmanship and genuine unnerving fear, one which peels away its layers the deeper Tommy and Austin delve into their investigation. To say more would be near-criminal (if there was any justice in the world, a warrant would be out for the arrest of those responsible at IFC Midnight for their egregiously spoiler-filled trailers).

Set almost entirely within the secluded underground confines of Virginia-based Tilden Morgue and Crematorium, "The Autopsy of Jane Doe" builds a quiet encroaching dread from the start, even before the more outwardly eerie stuff begins to occur. In performing their postmortem examination, Tommy and Austin are confronted with the consecration of the very things they rely upon in their profession: reason, facts, and physical evidence. As a young man who sees a different future for himself but is hesitant to leave his widowed father high and dry, Emile Hirsch (2013's "Lone Survivor") is sympathetic, likable, and honest in his every emotion. As Austin's father, a man who still has not made peace with the loss of his wife, Brian Cox (2015's "Pixels") matches Hirsch beat for beat, the two of them having to come to terms with the terrifyingly impossible-yet-not situation in which they've found themselves.

The reality the supremely fine actors bring to the proceedings adds immeasurably to the knife-cutting tension director Øvredal mounts, but even their talent cannot quite overcome the cumbersome exposition imparted in the final act. Indeed, a little less would have been far more in the homestretch. No mind. Beat for beat, "The Autopsy of Jane Doe" is one of the more skin-crawling cinematic excursions to have come around in the last few years, a picture that places horrors of the mind with horrors of the unknown on an even, exceedingly chilling playing field.

Read Dustin's Theatrical Review

Blu-ray Picture/Sound

"The Autopsy of Jane Doe" slices its way onto Blu-ray with a purposefully drab, effectively detailed 1080p transfer, revealing every gruesome nook and cranny of Jane Doe's mysterious deceased body. Exterior shots are overcast and gray, but clarity is top-notch. The majority of the narrative is reserved for the morgue's moody basement corridors and antiseptic surgical room, and the image throughout appears accurate to source, with realistic tones and atmospheric lighting. Black levels are not consistently deep, occasionally wavering toward gray, but crush and banding are minimal and details do not seem to suffer. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio features an unassumingly edgy and active mix, particularly in the second half as the sonic action (including a raging storm outside) and score ramp up. Best of all is the use of some upbeat '70s song cues, used to chilling supernatural effect across the soundfield.

Blu-ray Features
  • TV Spots (1:04, HD)
  • Teasers (2:20, HD)
  • Theatrical Trailer (2:12, HD)
Bottom Line
Scream Factory and IFC Midnight have a small, nerve-rattling gem on their hands with "The Autopsy of Jane Doe," a film that will work best for those who do not know anything about it going in. The Blu-ray is very light on bonus content, and what is there (trailers and TV spots) are full of spoilers and should be avoided until after one has seen the film. Nevertheless, picture quality and lossless audio are strong, and the Blu-ray is worth a passionate recommendation for the quality of the film itself. Horror fans should be especially enamored with this spine-tingling tale.

Buy Now at Amazon

© 2017 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman


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