Michael Bergeron
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The Autopsy of Jane Doe

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What appears to be a multiple homicide in a small town turns bizarre when the body of a nude young woman is found half buried in the basement of the crime scene. An immediate autopsy request is sent to the forensic coroner Tommy Tilden (Brian Cox) and his medical technician son Austin (Emile Hirsch).

So begins The Autopsy of Jane Doe, a film that slowly peels back the layers of actual medical procedure mixed with spooky paranormal events. As directed by Norwegian helmer André Øvredal, Jane Doe slowly ratchets up suspense until it’s literally unbearable. Introducing the father son duo by showing them examining a burn victim as well as establishing things like a girlfriend or the morgue cat only leads to further revelations down the road. Throw in a thunderstorm that cuts out power at a crucial moment and you’ve got a bona fide creepy experience.

Also, a special twitch of the death nerve to Olwen Kelly who plays the corpse. Kelly doesn’t have lines but she has presence. Part of the slow buildup occurs when the coroners are opening her chest and removing her organs. The director keeps cutting to close-ups of her open eyes. We know Jane Doe is dead, but there’s an eerie sense of otherworldliness in her post mortem gaze.

When the truth finally manifests the audience has been put through such a psychological ordeal that it’s easy to accept the unbelievable.

The Autopsy of Jane Doe opens exclusively at the Alamo Drafthouse Mason Road this weekend.