The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)

<strong class="MovieTitle">The Autopsy of Jane Doe</strong> (2016)

(On Cable TV, October 2018) I am of two minds about The Autopsy of Jane Doe, depending on which half of the film we’re going to discuss. The first half is an effective supernatural thriller, as two coroners starts working on the flawless body of a young woman found at a crowded crime scene. The contrast between the unblemished skin of the corpse and what they find while performing their autopsy is surprising and increasingly disturbing: broken bones, blackened lungs, missing tongue and teeth. Then it gets much weirder, as various … things are found inside of her. The mystery created by those discoveries is compelling: until that point, the film does score highly as a different take on familiar elements. But The Autopsy of Jane Doe then takes a sharp turn for the worse, as the thus-far realism of the autopsy quickly cedes ground to far more fantastic events. Sadly, Jane Doe ends up being an excuse for unrelated, incoherent paranormal events that kill a good chunk of the minimal cast. It’s during that second half that, clearly, the screenwriter abandons every rule they may have set for themselves. As a result, The Autopsy of Jane Doe becomes a film in which anything and everything can happen on a whim, giving us little reason to care about a film not playing fair with its audience. It doesn’t help that the film goes on a maximally nihilistic ending. Fortunately, I stopped caring far before everybody died. I do like the mystery, director André Øvredal’s effective use of a constrained setting with few characters, and the inventiveness of the plot’s first half. Emile Hirsch, Brian Cox turn in decent performance, with Olwen Catherine Kelly showing up as the corpse of Jane Doe. Unfortunately, the rest of the film works hard to undo nearly everything that was interesting until then, with a limp ending that does not leave a lasting good impression. Too bad…

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