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Autopsy of Jane Doe, The


Stars: Emile Hirsch, Brian Cox, Ophelia Lovibond, Michael McElhatton, Olwen Kelly, Jane Perry.

Director: Andre Ovredal

There was a time when horror movies were something a tad special.

That’s no longer the case.

Nowadays, with so many mediocre shockers escaping briefly into cinemas before landing in rather more viable screening habitats such as minor horror movie festivals, DVD and television, it’s bloody good (pun intended) to be able to welcome a big screen shocker, delivered in full full-frontal blood-and-guts glory, ghastly and gorgeous colour. that's actually worth seeing.

Thanks to a well-chosen cast and to Norwegian director Andre Ovredal who makes a strong English-language debut, The Autopsy of Jane Doe delivers powerfully on its own genre terms. Subtlety is hardly a major factor, genre satisfaction is.

The opening is familiar enough – American cops in small-town Virginia engage in a routine murder investigation after which we segue into the claustrophobic basement mortuary operated by father-and-son Cox and Hirsch where lies the beautiful corpse of the eponymous young woman (played, if that’s the right word) by Kelly.

Cox, with a splendid American accent as usual, gives a strong performance that anchors the story well when, as the post-mortem progresses, pitchforks him and his son into an escalating nightmare of horror apparently catalyzed by the corpse. And things become even worse when the elevator leading from the ground floor to the basement mortuary refuses to move…

Logic is less important than smartly executed and unpredictable make-you-jump shocks brought about as the morticians cut into their evening’s work and things become enjoyably worse by he minute.

Obviously, while it’s patently Norway to treat a lady, Ovredal makes the most of the corpse and its trimmings and Ian Goldberg and Richard Naing’s anything and everything goes screenplay, while some splendidly realistic surgical sequences, enough blood to float a flotilla and sadistically created suspense more than compensate for a less than logical narrative.

Alan Frank

USA 2016. UK Distributor: Lionsgate. Colour.
96 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 3, Drugs 1, Swearing 2.

Review date: 09 Apr 2017