Shortly after the success of Trollhunter, director André Øvredal was looking to make his first English language movie. And, not just the same thing either. But something different from what he did before. Hence, how we got The Autopsy of Jane Doe. Whereas his first film was a fun found footage affair featuring vicious trolls as the monster, this film would be a more traditionally shot horror film borrowing from the paranormal/exorcism subgenre. But, with a twist. Now, considering the more widespread recognition of Trollhunter and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, this film has, unfortunately, gone a bit under the radar. Luckily, though, it has gained a pretty strong word of mouth and become something a cult hit amongst the horror community. After watching it, I can see why.
Jane Doe starts as a seemingly standard type of paranormal horror film. As the morgue workers investigate the body to find out what happened, spooky stuff starts to happen. It’s not until they find out what’s going on with the body that the audience is let in on this being far more than your standard ghost story. As a director, Øvredal does a tremendous job of not letting the cat out of the bag until he is ready for it to. There’s a reason he’s becoming one of my favorite horror directors. As you could probably tell by the cast list, this is also a very well-acted horror film as well. Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch are especially good as the father and son. They give performances that make you really root for their escape from the horrors brought upon them. I also have to commend Olwen Kelly as the titular Jane Doe. Yes, she plays a dead, naked corpse the whole movie. But, that’s still not easy on an actress to be exposed like that and she does a great job.
For his second feature, Øvredal really knocks it out of the park once again. He found a way to make what should have been just another paranormal ghost story into something much more unique and creative. The actors all help with great performances and the film is pretty damn creepy to boot. If you’ve only seen this director’s most recent film, I encourage to seek this one out too. And, if you don’t mind subtitles, Trollhunter also.