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Blood on my Sofa: Hate From The Autopsy of Jane Doe

2016 horror The Autopsy of Jane Doe.

Welcome to Blood on my Sofa! Each month I will be providing you with a movie recommendation. It won’t be just any movie, but a movie I watched during the previous month that really rocked my world.

I’ve hated movies before, but never has a movie hated me—until now. See, the plan that Friday night was to relax on my couch and watch a mediocre horror film with casual scares, no character attachments, and a predictable plot. “F— that,” laughed the first scene of The Autopsy of Jane Doe. Directed by André Øvredal, this movie cares nothing about your expectations or your insecurities. It conjures your concern for the characters and hooks you to the story’s progression. Once it has you, it tears you from all hope for humanity and leaves you begging to be consoled. Only something that hates you would do this. Right? 

At the scene of a bloody homicide, the corpse of an unidentified woman is found. Sheriff Burke (Michael McElhatton) and his team search but uncover no signs of forced entry or malicious intent, aside from the buried body. Deputy Ballard (Yves O’Hara) suggests that the victims were trying to escape. Confused, Sheriff Burke takes the body to Tommy (Brian Cox), the town’s coroner, and explains that he needs the cause of death by the following morning. Tommy springs to work. Austin (Emile Hirsch), seeing Burke’s troubled look and understanding the enormous workload dropped on his father, cancels his date with Emma (Ophelia Lovibond) and returns downstairs to help with the autopsy. With no external signs of trauma, Tommy and Austin begin to peel back skin and innards to discover something they and the corridors of their morgue have never experienced before.

Autopsy of Jane Doe

The Autopsy of Jane Doewas filmed in a few locations, but nearly ninety percent of it takes place in the family’s morgue. With that constriction, a director of photography must be creative with each scene and shot. Roman Osin constantly had the camera moving and created tension through prolonged shots on points of interest, conjuring feelings of anticipation that the object in focus is going to move. Sometimes our expectations were met; sometimes subverted, leaving our minds to wonder what demented future awaited us as a result of these unsolved mysteries. 

Pulling back from the camerawork to the screenplay, we realize that the story grew from a simple concept: an unidentified body is found. As the story progressed, the body held more history for us—and even more secrets yet to be answered. But there was a transition point for me. First, I wanted to know more about this Jane Doe. Then, when the radio began to cut on by itself, lights began to flicker, and unfamiliar shadows emerged, I yearned to cut this anatomy class short and spend the rest of the day playing in P.E. For me, it appeared that the more you discovered about this Jane Doe, the worse your life became. Ian Goldberg and Richard Naing constructed this unusual story. Both are also contributors to Fear the Walking Dead.

With all this, heed my warning. If you think you are going to leave The Autopsy of Jane Doe emotionally unscathed, you are kidding yourself. The characters are too engaging for you not to care about them, and the mystery is too fantastic for you not to find out more. After you watch this picture, tell me if you agree that the movie hated you the way I feel it hated me. Truthfully, as a child, I fed into people disliking me, so I tried to work day and night for them to change their perception of me. As an adult, I thought I was done with that. But why do I find myself writing and praising a movie that I feel hates me? What dark, twisted power does this movie have?

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Written by Zena Dixon
In addition to contributing to Wicked Horror, Zena Dixon has been writing about all things creepy and horrific at Real Queen of Horror for over three years. She has also contributed to iHorror and Bloody Disgusting. She has always loved horror films and someday hopes to be known for writing and directing her own feature-length horror pictures.
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