Father and son coroners who receive a mysterious homicide victim with no apparent cause of death. As they attempt to identify the beautiful young "Jane Doe," they discover increasingly bizarre clues that hold the key to her terrifying secrets.
The Autopsy of Jane Doe is one of the most terrifying modern horror films we have. Saying it is one of the scariest films ever would not be much of an exaggeration. Typically, I am not a fan of films where the villain is some unseen force. But this one was good over to get me over my prejudice. Even if, like me, you are not a fan of ghost/haunting movies, watch The Autopsy of Jane Doe. This film puts itself in Blair Witch Project and Babadook territory with how terrifying it is.
Our cast in the film is small, focusing on a father-son pair of morticians for most of the movie. Both characters are fairly normal guys who are relatable. Having a young man plus an older gentleman made for a good dynamic as their terror slowly increases. There are a few supporting characters as well, primarily the young mortician’s girlfriend and the town sheriff who has been investigating a mysterious homicide and brings the Jane Doe to the morgue. While their involvement in the film is somewhat minimal, they are still good characters who play their roles well. And then of course there is the villain of the film but not much can be said about them due to spoilers.
Many modern horror movies just try to make audiences feel disgusted. Throw a few buckets of fake blood all over the screen and add in jump scares here and there. A lot of modern cop dramas and other late air TV programs show people getting their heads blown off and being tortured five nights a week, so simple blood and guts just do not cut it anymore. The Autopsy of Jane Doe is scary because it psychologically messes with you. Audiences will spend most of the film thinking about what could be there. Is it behind the door in front of you? Or is it behind you, lurking in the shadows?
Leaving horror to the imagination is a very strong approach in this genre. For some other forms of storytelling, it is just lazy. You cannot name any timeless classics that are “choose your own ending” books for a reason. But when people are afraid, they tend to imagine whatever they fear most. You become convinced that the monster is lurking in that one particular spot. That at any second, it will jump out and grab you. And then the danger comes from somewhere you did not expect. Maybe you will not even see it coming. The film itself certainly seemed to come out of nowhere with how good it was.