The Autopsy of Jane Doe [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - Australia - Umbrella Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: James-Masaki Ryan (7th May 2017).
The Film

“The Autopsy of Jane Doe” (2016)

The Tilden Morgue & Crematorium has been a family run institution for nearly 100 years, with father Tommy (played by Brian Cox) and son Austin (played by Emile Hirsch) currently taking care of the place as the coroners. Like detectives investigating a crime, they must investigate the cause of death of the bodies that are delivered. When Austin is about to leave for the night to have a date with his girlfriend Emma (played by Ophelia Lovibond), a new body arrives. As Sheriff Burke (played by Michael McElhatton) describes it, she was discovered at a crime scene but seemingly has nothing to do with the crime. Austin decides to postpone the date until later in the evening to help out his father, but the autopsy does not go as easy as expected.

Everything about this body dubbed “Jane Doe” (played by Olwen Kelly) goes against science. Her eyes are a grey color and clouded which would seem to indicate a body that’s been dead for some time. But her skin is perfect and not decomposing indicating the death was recent. She has fractured wrists and ankles yet she does not have any marks such as bruises or cuts on her body. While cutting into her body to examine her internal organs there are many abnormalities, yet there are no signs of scars cuts on her skin to indicate anything was done from the outside. Things get stranger and stranger for Tommy and Austin throughout the night as a raging thunderstorm is approaching and mysterious things start occurring inside the morgue…

“The Autopsy of Jane Doe” was written by Ian Goldberg and Richard Naing, and directed by Norwegian director André Øvredal as his first English language feature film. Going in a completely different direction from his previous film “Troll Hunter” which was a found footage monster film, “The Autopsy of Jane Doe” goes in for a more intimate approach with most of the film taking place in a central location indoors with very few characters throughout. It is claustrophobic, intimate, and truly unsettling. The establishment of the father and son dynamic is very well put together with their scenes introducing their work ethic and also personal relationship early on while latter scenes go further including the loss of Tommy’s wife/Austin’s mother recently having an effect on both of them. As for the “villain” in the story, it is not the usual villain as it is just a dead body that doesn’t move at all. But when things start to unravel while the autopsy starts to take place, pieces start coming together one by one on who or what this “Jane Doe” is. Not everything is straight forward and some may think the idea of a dead body causing the strange phenomenon is contrived, but horror fans will most likely be satisfied. There are some imperfect moments though, such as the multiple clichéd jump scares, the subplot with the cat that seemed unnecessary, and the latter half having some pacing and plot issues compared to the strong first half.

The performances by Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch are excellent taking the time to establish them but as for the other characters, there really is not enough screen time to make the most of them. Olwen Kelly as the dead body has received praise for her role which is one of the most absurd praises there could be, as she was basically doing nothing the entire time or was replaced by a dummy for scenes which they removed her internal organs. Praise must be given to the effects technicians that designed the body based on Kelly to be used in the film as in many parts it is hard to tell if it is a real person on the table or a dummy.

The film was screened at various festivals at the end of 2016 where it won “Best Picture” at the Austin Fantastic Fest, the “Best Film - Jury Award” at Fantastic Fest, “Best International Feature” at Monster Fest, and the Special Jury Prize at the Sitges Catalonian International Film Festival, plus a round of other nominations.

Note this is a region ALL Blu-ray which can play on any Blu-ray player worldwide

Video

Umbrella Entertainment presents the film in 1080p in the AVC MPEG-4 codec, in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Being a recent film, the transfer is basically flawless. It is a dark film as it mostly takes place at night in a morgue. Blues and reds are especially strong, skin tones including the paleness of the dead bodies, and sharpness of the image is top notch.

The film’s runtime on the disc is 86:16.

Audio

English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
English Dolby Digital 5.1

The 5.1 track is available in both lossless 5.1 or lossy 5.1. The DTS-HD Master Audio track is excellent, with surrounds being frequently used for effects, music, and obviously jump scares. The recurring “Open Up Your Heart and Let the Sunshine in” is already a creepy song, but the film kicks it up one level higher. Dialogue is always easy to understand with most of the speech coming from the center speaker. The Dolby Digital track is basically identical but lacks the power of the lossless track.

There are optional English HoH subtitles for the main feature in a white font. They are well timed and easy to read with no errors to speak of.

Also note that the subtitles and the Dolby Digital track are not available on the menu but can be selected by remote while playing the film.

Extras

Cast and Crew Interviews (60:49)
This set of EPK interviews are with director André Øvredal, producers Ben Pugh, Eric Garcia, and Fred Berger, actors Brian Cox, Emile Hirsch, and Ophelia Lovibond, and writers Ian B. Goldberg and Richard Naing. Questions are asked about the film and the story, the characters, working with the other cast and crew and so on. Nothing too in depth. As for the audio, Øvredal’s interview sounds a little weak like the microphone wasn’t picking up his voice directly, and for the writers’ interview it only comes out of the left speaker for some reason. All the other interviews are completely fine.
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in 1.78:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

"Behind the Scenes" featurette (13:36)
B-roll footage from throughout the shoot is shown.
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in 1.78:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

Promo Clips (10:33)
Six clips are presented in order. Most of these are just the scenes from the film so there is nothing particularly exclusive. The first clip is of montage shots of the Tilden Morgue and Crematorium. The other five clips are scenes from the movie: Emma wanting to see a body, cutting Jane Doe’s body, Austin hears something in the vent, radio trouble and the storm approaching, and Tommy and Austin trapped without a phone.
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in 2.35:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

Theatrical Trailer (2:04)
A good creepy trailer that does not give away too much.
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in 2.35:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

The amount of extras are lengthy, but substance-wise they do not go as in-depth as one would hope. There is no commentary or deeper discussions which would have been appreciated.

Packaging

The cover is reversible. The only difference is that the Australian MA15+ classification rating is not on the alternate front cover. Also the cover states “region B” though the disc is in fact region free.

Overall

One of the better reviewed horror movies of 2016, “The Autopsy of Jane Doe” is a claustrophobic nightmare that keeps its tension high with a great dynamic from the two leads. Umbrella Entertainment’s Blu-ray features excellent audio and video plus lengthy extras which comes as very recommended.

The Film: B Video: A Audio: A Extras: C Overall: B+

 


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