The Autopsy of Jane Doe Movie Review and Q&A
by Phillip Wilcox "Our Movie Demon"
Writers: Ian B. Goldberg, Richard Naing
Director: Andre Ovredal
Starring: Emile Hirsch, Brian Cox, Ophelia Lovibond, Michael McElhatton, Olwen Katherine Kelly
Running Time: 1 hr 39 mins
How It Can Be Seen: VOD/Amazon
Emile Hirsch (Into The Wild, The Girl Next Door, Milk, Lone Survivor) and veteran great Brian Cox (Manhunter, Troy, Braveheart, Zodiac) headline a new horror film from the director of Trollhunter and The Tunnel. The Autopsy of Jane Doe is about a father and son family owned coroner team who are asked to dig into a mysterious Jane Doe (a person without identity for those who aren't familiar with the term) and find out the cause of her death as she was discovered half buried in the basement of a brutal crime scene that took place at a seemingly normal rural home. As they cut into her, some very unnatural and crazy things begin to happen; and they are put in the middle of some horrifying circumstances and situations! Oh come on, do you really think I'm gonna spill some details? You know me. You know I want you to put things together as the characters do! That is exactly how this film turns out to be. It's a bit of a thinking person's horror movie! It's smart, chilling, and without a doubt unrelenting in it's achievement to creep you the hell out! I had a severe case of goosebumps through out this flick. It had me fidgeting in my seat and torturing me with successful moments of suspense, and it was all due to the spectacular way in which the film was cut together - Lingering on moments of tension and being quick during it's moments of jumps and scares; sometimes leaving me wondering what the hell it was I just saw!
Brian and Emile were so endearing as father and son that they totally had me buying it. If I had no idea who these actors were, and that's a huge If, but in some alternate universe where I have zero film knowledge, and then saw this film. I would have easily thought that these two were actually father and son. They just had fantastic chemistry and bounced their performances off of each other with such ease. I have seen Brian Cox play some of his past characters cold and even callused. But this character he played, Tom Tilden, had such a fatherly warmth and nurturing way about him that I had no difficulty caring deeply about him and his relationship with his son. Ophelia Lovibond plays Emma, the girlfriend of Emile's Austin Tilden. There's nothing extraordinary about her, but the way in which Ophelia plays her, she makes you care. And then later when bad things happen, you can't help but feel badly for her. There's nothing terrible about these characters. They really do nothing wrong, however they are sadly and instantly caught in the whirlwind of horror when they come into contact with Jane Doe, and you are pulling for them to make it through! Now, speaking of the character of Jane Doe, she is played by actress Olwen Katherine Kelly. Typically playing a corpse is a thankless job, but holy shit if Olwen doesn't play Jane well! She does so efficiently and minimally. She is subtle and that is what makes what she does with the character of Jane Doe so effective! It is also how the other characters react to her and behave around her that really sell who she is and what happens through out the course of the picture. I was thoroughly impressed and satisfied with the horror. This is the kind of horror that I'm attracted to - The kind that gets to you emotionally and psychologically. Yeah sure you have your gross out moments with the autopsy itself; I mean who wants to see the insides of a dead body? Unless you're into that sort of thing. But for those who don't have that sensibility or operate within that frame of mind, this movie is gonna be hard to watch. Major kudos to the makeup fx team! The dead bodies look so realistic that at times, even for me it was a bit much to look directly at for more than 10 seconds at a time. The Autopsy of Jane Doe is a horror movie that will undoubtedly have you wondering and guessing, then horrify you for the duration of the film with its results. Are you ready?
And a Q&A with director Andre Ovredal
Having gotten to see The Autopsy of Jane Doe tonight, I was blown away by how amazingly simple the film's approach to fear was - What was your initial thought reading the script and what made you want to direct the film?
I just found it to be the perfect horror script - it was terrifying, had great characters, a fresh, intriguing location and descriptions that simply dripped atmosphere. And yes - it was just honest, classic storytelling, building tension - and as a horror film it was different - father and son just doing their job, instead of teenagers being chased around. I was very lucky to be chosen by the producers to direct it.
Could you walk us through what it took to make the film, including landing the well established and talented cast you have in the film?
Well, that´s an enormous question! Don´t even know where to start! It took a while to get going, because we had to wait for cast to be available. Then it was 5 intense weeks of shooting in London, on a sound stage where we built the set. We spent a year editing and doing special effects and sound, music etc to get it to be the best it could be.
I was so impressed by actress Olwen Kelly's performance in the film, basically she had to just lie there and be a corpse, which I would imagine is harder than looks given that people do look for chest movements and eye twitches people play dead in movies - What was that process like in filming those moments and how much direction did she get during those scenes?
Well, direction wasn´t that much, it´s more about how we filmed her, her head positions, what kind of look she had in her eyes, if we wanted her to feel powerful or like a victim. But she was amazing, she was Jane. She was so in the moment and present and added so much by her sheer energy. She was also so good about all the crazy stuff going on around and with her. She was soon still, and it was amazing how long she could hold her breath. But of course we had to go back and do some tinkering to her in VFX afterwards.
What was the most memorable and/or challenging parts about making the film?
Shooting, always. Always fighting the clock is the toughest part. Trying to get all the shots in the can before the day is over. It´s truly the biggest challenge on low budget films…
What films have influenced you the most as a writer/filmmaker?
Spielberg´s early films like Close Encounters, Jaws, Raiders. In the horror space - Seven, The Exorcist, The Omen, The Shining, Poltergeist. The Sixth Sense, The Orphanage and The Conjuring in the later years.