Friday, 29 December 2017

The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)

The Autopsy of Jane Doe.jpegThis American film co-stars Scotland's finest, Brian Cox (the original movie Hannibal Lecter), so for that reason I thought I'd give it a go. I'm glad I did. I've been disappointed by the quality of a lot of US horror lately, and while far from perfect TAOJD is pretty good.

The story begins with a crime scene, and the usual palaver - little markers around a blood-soaked small-town home, photographer flashing away. The sheriff is baffled by a multiple homicide in a house where there is no sign of breaking and entering. It's almost as if the victims were trying to get out. Then, in the basement, the cops find something even stranger - the half-buried body of a young woman. They cannot identify her, and there is no sign of violence.

Jane Doe is taken to the local morgue, run by father and son team Tommy and Austin Tilden. Tommy (Cox) is under pressure to find the cause of death, and Austin (Emile Hirsch) postpones a date with girlfriend Emma (Ophelia Lovibond) to help his dad. There's a little morgue humour, of course, but as the autopsy proceeds things take a turn for the weird. This is very much a supernatural horror film, rooted in American folklore and history. The first clue as to JD's true identity is the unusual narrowness of her waist. I was kicking myself for not getting that until much later.

While not excessively gory TAOJD is about, well, cutting up a body, so it might not be to some people's taste. The ending is also a little wonky, and inevitably it does rely on scares of a familiar kind. But the premise is nicely executed and does tackle an issue that was also central to one of the BBC's Ghost Stories from Christmas, many moons again. I will say no more!

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