Directed by André Øvredal [Other horror films: Trolljegeren (2010), Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019)]
Directed by André Øvredal, who was behind the cult favorite Trollhunter, this movie has a high quality production, great actors (Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch playing the main characters, father and son), and pretty suspenseful scenes. A moderately unique plot, also.
Prior to beginning the film, I didn’t much know what to expect. I was thinking maybe it’d be a murder/mystery-type thing playing over the course of a month or so. What it actually is happens to be a supernatural journey over a single night, culminating in a downer of an ending, for the most part. Truth be told, I think the film, as good as the first 2/3 of the movie was, ended up being a mixed bag.
The good: Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch play a very compelling father and son. Their scenes together, for the most part, are very solid, and some even moving. It feels as though there’s a real relationship there, and I loved that. Also, some of the implications of the ending are cool. I’d rather not say any specifics, but things that happen in the film aren’t as obvious as they may otherwise seem. Also what has to be praised is the tense, claustrophobic feel of the first 50 minutes. Were there jump scares thrown in? Yes, and those bothered me, but the core of the first 2/3 of the film were great.
Onto the bad, we have a few elements, one being the aforementioned jump scares. I wish that mainstream horror films didn’t rely on these paper-thin jump scares in order to rev up the audience. Now, this film wasn’t nearly as bad as others, perhaps because Øvredal’s not been responsible for many mainstream flicks, but it was still prevalent throughout the film (including the last split second, which I find increasingly annoying).
There’s also the character of Emma, who was Austin’s (Hirsch) girlfriend. Now depending on your perception of the film, her actions seemed rather foolish. And the aftereffects of her actions didn’t seem all that important, in truth. I just don’t think she added much of anything, and that’s not a great thing. At the same time, given the fact she had less than 15 minutes of screen time, perhaps that can be excused.
The last thing, though, is arguably debatable. In my opinion, I don’t think enough, if any, concrete answers were provided. There were some potentially accurate conjectures, but one theory (according to IMDb, the most credible one) just doesn’t make sense to me. I will say, though, that the antagonist in this film was quite unique, and I certainly didn’t expect it to go that route. The Autopsy of Jane Doe was an interesting supernatural horror film – it had some great elements (the relationship between father and son) and interesting choices.
The movie didn’t fall flat at the end; if that’s the impression I’m giving, it’s unintentional. But the final thirty minutes are certainly more an average path than the first fifty. For it’s flaws, the movie’s not atrocious by any means, and is, when all is said and done, above average. Not by a lot, but it is.