The Autopsy of Jane Doe
Shout Factory // R // $24.97 // June 27, 2017
Review by Chris Zimmerman | posted June 30, 2017
Highly Recommended
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Graphical Version
It's been a rough last couple of years for old school horror fans. Gone are the days of suspense and character drama; replaced with lackadaisical plots and gore-heavy B-cinema. The classic monsters of yesteryear that helped define the genre have been reduced to plot devices to connect the dots to a shared universe that is closer to Avengers-lite than anything resembling prototypical horror icons. Cheap scares and ham-fisted acting are the new vogue, while anything else is considered too plodding to hold modern audience's attention. Sneaking under the radar is The Autopsy of Jane Doe, a 2016 indie offering that marries a haunting premise with memorable performances by Emil Hircsh and Brian Cox.

The key to an effective horror film often relies on an outlandish premise that can be grounded enough in reality that it sparks a reaction within its audience. A successful scary movie will make you question the slightest creak in a house in the late hours of the evening.

The Autopsy of Jane Doe breathes new life into the horror world with a relatively simple story built around a creepy setting and minimal characters. When a homicide victim is deposited in their family's basement morgue, mortician Tommy (Brian Cox) and his son Austin (Emile Hirsch) discover there are more than a few secrets hiding beneath the surface. Compounding matters, a storm rages outside, closes the pair in for the night along with a basement of bodies.

With the setting established, the narrative begins to build the tension. Acquainting the audience with the procedures and details of the autopsy, the film develops a sense of foreboding as Tommy and Austin narrate the deconstruction of the Jane Doe. Showing no obvious signs of physical violence, mystery turns to dread when father and son find themselves trapped in the basement by a supernatural presence.

From there the film unfurls at an intensive pace. Both Hirsch and Cox are outstanding in their roles, imbuing their characters with enough soul and personality to make them feel believable and sympathetic. Unlike similar haunted house films, The Autopsy of Jane Doe allows room for the performances to breathe and sink in, never sacrificing the character work for spectacle, resulting in an effectively atmospheric ghost story that leaves audiences on the edge of their seats. Aspiring filmmakers should take note: this is horror done right.

The Bluray

Video and Audio:

Presented in 2:40:1 aspect ratio, The Autopsy of Jane Doe looks stunning. Its muted palette of intense lights against muddy shades of black add to the foreboding atmosphere. The blu-ray handles the shadow details well given the excessive darkness, with textures and image details appearing slightly boosted to enhance contrast.

The Autopsy of Jane Doe is presented in English DTS-HD Master 5.1 along with a Spanish language option. Dialogue is clear mostly free of any background noise.


Disappointingly, aside from a trailer and teasers, there are no extra features to speak of.

Final Thoughts:

The Autopsy of Jane Doe offers a unique premise that fully capitalizes on its potential. Enthusiastic performances from its minimal cast help to create an effective supernatural drama sprinkled with chilling moments that build to a crescendo within the third actThe Autopsy of Jane Doe

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