Tuesday, October 10, 2023

October Horror Movie Challenge: The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)

The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)
Another one that has been on my list for a bit is 2016's The Autopsy of Jane Doe. Also, because of its director, this time André Øvredal, who gave us the wonderfully fun Trollhunter (2010).  This movie is often classified with other Body Horror movies, and I see why, but it is more of a supernatural horror movie.

The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)

The nude body of an unidentified woman is found in the basement of a grisly crime scene and Sheriff Burke (Michael McElhatton of 'Game of Thrones') wants some answers. The body is taken to the father and son medical examiners Tommy (Brian Cox) and Austin Tilden. They are to discover the cause of death by morning.

The woman, Jane Doe (played with exceptional skill by Olwen Kelly, more on her in a bit) has no outward physical signs of death. Her body is slightly cooler than room temperature, her waist is usually small for her frame, and her limbs are still pliable. On close examinations though, things begin to make less and less sense. Her wrists and ankles are fractured, her eyes are milky white, her tongue has been cut out and she is missing a tooth. Again, with no outward signs like bruising.

As they proceed, the local radio station tells us about a huge storm coming (like last night's movie!), and the power goes on an off. Austin cancels his date with his girlfriend to help his dad, and things start getting really creepy.  He thinks he can see "Jane" in mirrors but turns, and she is not there. He hears things, and his dad's cat is found dead.

Moving on to the internal exam, they find her lungs are blackened like she had been burned, her tongue had been cut out, she has lacerations on her heart, poison flowers in her stomach, writing on the inside of her skin, and tearing inside her vagina; not trauma, but tearing. Someone had tortured this woman. They also find a bit of rolled parchment with "ritual" symbols on it and her missing tooth.  Later on, they also discover that her brain is still alive.

The power goes out due to the storm, and when they get it going again, they discover the other corpses are gone, and something is inside with them.  Thinking it was one of the corpses reanimated they kill it with an axe (same as last night!) only to discover it was actually Emma, Austin's girlfriend.

We discover by piecing together the clues that the ritual symbols and Roman numerals are a reference to Leviticus 20:27, and the "1693" is a reference to the Salem Witch trials. They figure she was tortured as a witch and left undying as a means to punish witches. Now she gets people around her to suffer the same pain as she does. So Tommy, to save his son, asks Jane to take him. His wrists and ankles break, he can't talk, and is breathing smoke. Tommy tries to cut out his own tongue but Austin kills him in a mercy. Soon after, he sees his dad's corpse behind him, and he falls to death.

In the morning, the Sheriff returns to three more bodies killed in a similar way as the ones from yesterday. He wants the body of Jane, now whole again, transferred out of his county. We also learn there have been no storms at all. 

We see the medical transport taking her away and as the film ends, her toe twitches.


This movie shares a number of common elements with last nights The Lighthouse. Both are from directors whose previous movies I enjoyed. Both feature minimal casts where the claustrophobia of the setting is as key as any of the supernatural elements. Both deal with death. 

Both also feature minimal, performances from their female costars with no dialog. Olwen Kelly as Jane Doe spends the entire movie laid out on an autopsy table nude and never says a word. She can't even emote, but there is a sense of both vulnerability in her performance and in the end, malice. She might have had the hardest job in the whole cast. 

I am not 100% happy with the ending. The witch angle is fun (and I can do a lot with it) it doesn't explain how or why all of these things were done to her. 

October Horror Movie Challenge 2023
Viewed: 11
First Time Views: 5

31 Days of Halloween Movie Challenge

1 comment:

PT Dilloway said...

Sounds like an interesting movie. I might have to look for it.