• Autopsy Of Jane Doe, The

    Released by: Umbrella Entertainment
    Released on: May 3rd, 2017.
    Director: André Øvredal
    Cast: Emile Hirsch, Brian Cox, Michael McElhatton, Olwen Kelly, Ophelia Lovibond
    Year: 2016

    The Movie:

    Directed by André Øvredal, the man who directed the sorely underrated Troll Hunter a few years ago, 2016’s The Autopsy Of Jane Doe first came to this writer’s attention while strolling the floor of the New York Comic Con last year. IFC had a table set up with a woman standing behind it clad in surgical garb. On the table was the actual corpse prop that was used in the movie, its stomach flayed wide open for all to see. You could even poke it if you wanted to – it was pretty gross (check out some pictures of that here). Now the film has finally been released on Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack from Shout! Factory and IFC. It’s a Walmart exclusive for now but come late June, it will see a general release.

    As to the movie itself, it starts off when Sheriff Burke (Michael McElhatton) and a few other police officers uncover the body of a young unidentified woman in the basement of a suburban home, the site of some rather bloody killings. Understandably upset by the grisly crime scene, Burke nevertheless follows the law and brings this ‘Jane Doe’ (Olwen Catherine Kelly) to the local morgue. Here a father/son coroner team Tommy Tilden (Brian Cox) and his son Austin (Emile Hirsch) get as many details from the Sheriff as they can, and then they set about getting down to business.

    Austin is hoping this won’t take too long – despite the fact that the weather outside is terrible he’s planning on going to the movies with his girlfriend Emma (Ophelia Lovibond). As they start examining the body, however, it soon becomes clear that this is going to take some time. None of what they uncover makes sense – when they cut into her she bleeds, unheard of for a corpse more than only a few hours old. Her ankles and wrists have been broken but there’s no bruising, her skins is perfect. The woman’s tongue has been cut out. Her lungs are blackened and look to have been burned but there are no visible signs of burning to the corpse. Things get even more unusual once they start exploring her insides – and then the radio starts making odd noises. It gets weirder from there.

    The Autopsy Of Jane Doe is very well done. This starts off as more of a procedural than a straight horror film. The cops do their things and bring in the corpse and once the Tilden’s start the autopsy, we see the elder man correcting his son, training him and teaching him what to look for along the way. It’s fascinating to watch in an absolutely morbid sort of way. They go about their business like detectives out to solve a mystery, taking Polaroid’s for reference and making notes on a blackboard as they dig deeper into what could have happened to their subject. Cox and Hirsch really shine here. They’re well cast, completely believable as father and son and very good in their roles.

    As the procedural elements of the picture begin to give way to more traditional horror movie tropes, the performances stay strong. The film isn’t heavy on bombastic effects as most of the movie really revolves around the two men poking around inside the corpse, but the prosthetic put together for the picture is convincingly gruesome and very realistic. The other elements that the last third of the picture calls for are also well done.

    Add to that some great production values and a really solid score and this shapes up nicely. The cinematography is striking and the basement morgue location wonderfully atmospheric. There are one or two jump scares here but for the most part the film relies a lot more on atmosphere and cleverly crafted characters to tell its genuinely engaging story. This is a welcome breath of fresh air in the genre, a smart and interesting movie that takes some interesting chances and comes out all the better for it.


    The Autopsy Of Jane Doe arrives on Blu-ray from Umbrella Entertainment on a 50GB disc in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 2.40.1 widescreen and it looks pretty much identical to the U.S. release from Shout! Factory – which means it looks excellent (bit rate junkies may be interested to know that the feature actually takes up 23GBs of space on the disc as opposed to the U.S. disc, which affords the feature 21GBs of space). Shot digitally there’s obviously no print damage of any kind to discuss, the image is pretty much immaculate. This isn’t the most colorful film, given that it takes place inside a morgue in the middle of the night and that the power goes out at one point, but when brighter hues are used they pop quite nicely. Black levels are nice and strong but the image remains devoid of any obvious crush and has solid shadow detail. There’s very good texture and fine detail here as well, which lets your eyes take in all the icky detail of the corpse as the movie plays out!

    The English language DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track is fine, and again it seems identical to the U.S. release. There are no problems with any hiss or distortion, the dialogue sounds clean and clear and the music has good range and presence to it. There are quite a few scenes, particularly towards the end of the film where things get a bit more intense, where the surround activity is immersive, impressive and effective. Levels are nicely balanced and there’s a surprisingly strong low end that adds to a few key scenes (just listen to that thunder roll around the half way point). Sound design plays an important part in making this movie work as well as it does and it’s to Umbrella’s credit that they’ve ensured the movie sounds as good as it sounds here. An English language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound track is also included. Optional English subtitles are also provided.

    Extras were slim on the Shout! Release, it only had a trailer and some TV spots, but this Umbrella disc actually does contain some decent supplements starting with a featurette that runs just over an hour long and is made up of some interesting cast and crew interviews. André Øvredal is up first, talking about how he became involved in the film, what sold him on the script, preparing for the shoot, the characters that populate the film and more. Up next, producer Ben Hugh on his take on what makes the movie work, his first impressions of the script, working with Øvredal on the film, the plot of the picture, what Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch both brought to the movie, the production design featured in the picture, the film’s influences and more. Brian Cox shows up next (with fake blood all over his forehead!), to talk about how he became involved in the film, his thoughts on his character, the ‘body’ of Jane Doe, his thoughts on the director and on working with Hirsch, his thoughts on the horror genre in general and other assorted bits and bobs. A very animated and enthusiastic Hirsh then shows up to follow suit, talking about the plot of the film and what appealed to him about it, how he landed the role, his thoughts on the script and collaborating with his fellow cast members and with Øvredal. Up next, producers Eric Garcia and Fred Berger on the quality of the picture and what the various participants brought to the table with their respective involvement in the feature, what audiences can expect from the film. Writers Ian B. Goldberg and Richard Naing then discuss the genesis of the story, what inspired them, what Øvredal brought to their project and more. Last but not least, Ophelia Lovibond appears on camera to talk about her thoughts on the film and the script, working with Øvredal, Hirsch and Cox and what audiences can expect from the film.

    Umbrella has also supplied thirteen minutes of B-Roll footage that serves as a look at what it was like on set. Here we get the chance to see Hirsch and Cox paling around when on set, some of the effects work, Øvredal directing his cast, the difficulties involved in flambéing a corpse, and what was involved in getting some of the location shooting done out in the suburbs for the opening scene just right. There’s also a ten minute piece that collects various feature and promo clips that were put together to promote the picture. Aside from that? We get the film’s theatrical trailer, menus and chapter selection.

    The Final Word:

    The Autopsy Of Jane Doe is a refreshingly original horror picture, something genuinely different in the genre. It’s well acted, quite tense and at times, genuinely eerie. Umbrella Entertainment’s Region B Blu-ray trumps the U.S. release by replicating the excellent audio and video quality of the domestic disc while adding a substantial amount of extra features. Don’t let this one pass you by, it’s an impressive picture.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!