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One wouldn’t think performing an autopsy would signal father and son bonding, while “The Autopsy of Jane Doe” likely won’t hinder that. Tommy/Dad (Brian Cox) and Austin/Son (Emile Hirsch) make a viable argument to keep it in the family as morticians for director André Øvredal (“Trollhunter”). Using their basement as the center of operations littered with family photos and wood paneling, Dad (Cox) quizzes Son (Hirsch) about the cause of death of a burn victim like others would do with their kids on math. “Everybody has a secret,” Cox states as a mission statement of sorts. “Some are just better at hiding than others.” Hirsch responds “Some are better at finding it.” Cox is firm on figuring out the how: leaving the why to the police, as he’s quick to remind his son’s girlfriend, who’s curious to see her first dead body, “I’m a traditionalist.”

The mysterious cadaver is wheeled in late one night with nearly no hints as to whom she is or how she was killed. Instantly, her case is confusing: peat under her fingernails and toenails, ankles and wrists shattered, tongue crudely cut out. Once they open her up they find that none of the internal mutilation is visible on the exterior. On the outside: she’s perfectly persevered. Fans of CSI will find this interesting.

Øvredal sporadically pause’s his two leads with typical haunted house scenarios: creepy yet funny songs on the radio, a dangerous storm, the unexplained death of a pet (RIP). As Jane Doe’s torturous demise seems to become ritualistic in nature, the film itself takes the same road.

Øvredal’s enclosed thriller is for sure a corpse above your average horror flick. Cox and Hirsch do a fine job adding depth and dimension to the mystery they’re trying to unravel, as they are now unwilling a part of it.

Of course front and center Olwen Kelly “Jane Doe” is beautifully unsettling without ever moving a muscle or speaking a word. She’s always there, blurred but still visible in the background as Cox and Hirsch discus what exactly is going on, and Øvredal uses her being to gripping effect. Like most others in “The Autopsy of Jane Doe,” the corpse’s mere presence is a simple trick done well. It would be cool to see a sequel or even a prequel to this one, considering it was left open for both.

Rated R for bloody horror violence, unsettling grisly images, graphic nudity, and language

IMDB 7.8/10



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