Movie Recommendation: The Autopsy of Jane Doe

The top reasons I loved this movie were Olwen Catherine Kelly as Jane Doe and, only to a slightly lesser extent, Brian Cox as the aging medical examiner. Kelly is phenomenal in her ability to be utterly terrifying without moving a single muscle. She succeeds in being a completely convincing corpse while also managing to be altogether imposing. I can’t imagine how hard that would be.

The movie begins with the police investigating a triple homicide that took place in a quiet suburban house to a nice suburban family. There is no clear explanation of why or how it happened. And to complicate the situation, they discover a half buried, naked corpse of an unidentified woman in the basement. The sheriff takes this “Jane Doe” to the local medical examiner.

Of course he does this in the middle of the night. Like you do.

An older man and his son run the medical examiner office/morgue. They are the latest generations in a family owned business. Quickly we learn that the aging father’s wife has passed on and he refuses to talk about it. His son has put off his big dreams to get out of the dead body business in order to stay on and take care of his dad.

As soon as the mysterious Jane Doe arrives things start to get weird. A flash storm erupts outside. The radio jumps around spastically insisting on playing creepy kids singing a strange hymn. The radio host starts saying things that sound way too personally directed like, “You’re not going anywhere.”

And besides that, nothing about Jane Doe’s autopsy is making any sense. Some parts of her show signs she had been dead for a while, yet other parts act as if she is only a few hours gone. As they dig deeper they find all sorts of evidence of extreme violence and torture, (charred lungs, scar tissue on all her organs, broken bones) yet her exterior shows no signs at all (no burn marks, bruising, cuts or marks of any kind).

And as you can imagine, things get worse and weirder from there.

Favorite Character: Jane Doe

Favorite Part: Jane Doe’s facial expressions that manage to be incredibly expressive while at the same time being completely motionless. She somehow is able to show terror, panic, sadness, horror, and then as the exam continues and her power over the situation becomes more and more apparent, her emotions evolve into righteous rage, and then finally smug and satisfaction.

Favorite Line: The son senses the impending doom far sooner than dear old dad. Son keeps suggesting they leave and dad scoffs and brushes off any strangeness as having a reasonable explanation. Until … well, there is a moment things go too far even for his stubborn old skepticism and then, quietly and without hesitation the dad turns to his son and says, “Lets get the f*ck out of here.”

Gore Level: Um, very high. The majority of the movie is an autopsy on a dead body so… yeah. There are skin and bones and blood and rib cutters and exposed skulls and bone saws and brains and corpses with their faces blown off… you get the idea.

Summary: This is a classic style horror movie. There is not a complex plot. There are not a ton of characters. There are just a few simple core people with a few simple core motivations. And it works perfectly.

Where you can find it: Currently streaming on Netflix

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