Wednesday, April 26, 2017

THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE (2016) (Blu-ray Review)


Label: IFC Midnight / Scream Factory
Region Code: A
Rating: R
Duration: 87 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1, DTS-HD MA 2.0 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.40:1)
Director: André Øvredal 
Cast: Emile Hirsch, Brian Cox, Michael McElhatton, Olwen Kelly, Ophelia Lovibond

The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016) is the follow-up to director André Øvredal's wonderful found-footage fantasy film Troll Hunter (2010) wherein trolls turned out to be real, it's been a few years since that one and let me set you straight right up front - it is worth the wait. In this tense tale shrouded in weirdness we have a father and son mortician team, the gruff father Tommy Tilden (Brian Cox, Trick ’r Treat) and his son Austin (Emile Hirsch, The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys) who are called upon by the local sheriff (Michael McElhatton, The Hallow) to perform an autopsy on a jane doe victim, a young woman found buried in the basement of a local home which was the scene of multiple grisly murders, and the jane doe they found in the basement is just one of numerous weird things about the unnerving crime scene, so much so that the sheriff is visibly shaken and confounded by the whole thing.

With the jane doe now at the basement mortuary of the Tilden's the father and son go about methodically examining the corpse for a proper cause of death. The victim is a young woman in her twenties, and very quickly the pair begin to note irregularities that defy easy explanation and an accurate cause of death, beginning with that her body look nearly pristine, the skin it smooth, unbroken and not discolored, there are no signs of rigor mortis, her wrists and ankles are brutally broken, her tong has been removed, her internal organs shows signs of scarring and burning... and that's not even the weirder stuff. As the postmortem continues the older Tilden mentors his son, correcting him, challenging him to draw the right conclusions based on the evidence the corpse presents, but this corpse is shrouded in mystery and is  presenting all manner of creepy and contradictory findings, that even the seasoned medical examiner finds himself struggling to understand. 

The movie started winning me over right away with it's craftsmanship, I love a well crafted movie, and this has a nice pace, it strings you along with moments of tension, and I loved the visual nuance and precise cinematography of Roman Osin (Pride & Prejudice)with the moody and atmospheric lighting of the basement mortuary set, but it is the father and son dynamic that glued it all together for me. The team-up of Hirsch and Cox is key, along with a rather good scene with the son's girlfriend Emma (Ophelia Lovibond, Guardians of the Galaxy), who is indulged her morbid curiosity by Tommy to peak at a corpse in one of the cadaver fridges, only to throw in a fun fright involving a bell strapped to the ankle of a corpse, it's good stuff. The character-bonds certainly help to make the weirder stuff more real, and there's some real gut-punch moments peppered throughout this one, which kept me on my toes, and plugged-in through to the end. Going into this one I had some preconceived notions about what the movie would be, though I had avoided all the trailers before viewing it, and while I was not completely surprised by what it turned out to be, I think the brooding and tense execution left we totally satisfied. I found it affecting and consistently creepy, this was one of my best home viewings experiences in quite a while, and by far my favorite of the IFC Midnight releases this year. 

Audio/Video: The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016) arrives on Blu-ray/DVD Combo courtesy of another IFC Midnight/Scream Factory team-up, looking very nice all the way through. Blacks are deep and inky, colors are vivid and nicely saturated, and the fine detail is robust, some of those autopsy dissection scenes with Cox slicing into the corpse are uncomfortable to watch, good stuff. Audio on the Blu-ray includes choice of DTS-HD MA English 2.0 and surround 5.1, the track exports the creepy and atmospheric score crisply with some nice punch when the more visceral stuff begins. Optional English subtitles are included. 

The extras are slim with just a selection of TV spots, teasers and a theatrical trailer, but I wanted more, this is a movie I wanted to dive into the extras, and there were none. The DVD/BD combo pack, and includes a standard definition DVD with the same extras and lossy audio. The release comes in a standard blue keepcase with a slipcover (O-ring) featuring the same artwork as the sleeve. I also like that the DVD and Blu-ray discs have different artwork. 

Special Features: 
- TV Spots (1 min) HD 
- Teasers (2 min) HD 
- Theatrical Trailer (2 min) HD 

The Autopsy of Jane Doe(2016) is tense and claustrophobic with some icky and visceral body horror elements, the two leads are wonderful as the father/son mortician team, and the movie is well-crafted and keenly executed, I love this movie, this comes highly recommended, must-see fright cinema. Looking forward to what comes next from director André Øvredal, which according to IMDB is a project titled Mortal, about a young man who discovers he has God-like powers based on ancient Norwegian mythology, I'm down. The Autopsy of Jane Doe will be available as a WalMart exclusive on May 2nd and available everywhere June 27th, it is also currently streaming on numerous VOD platforms. 4.5/5