Coroners, Austin and Tommy Tilden, played by Emile Hirsch and Brian Cox, respectively– are about to receive the most enigmatic corpse they have ever had to deal with. The father-son duo, must perform an autopsy on a “Jane Doe” that has been murdered under mysterious circumstances. The ensuing autopsy will leave the two men utterly confounded as they attempt to search for answers.
Austin is the apprentice to his talented and serious minded father, Tommy. Tommy Tilden hasn’t fully dealt with the death of his wife, and Austin can detect his father’s melancholy no matter how much he tries to hide it. Any moment that Austin’s mother is mentioned Tommy clams up, changing the subject, and when Austin confronts him Tommy assures that he is absolutely fine.
Nevertheless, the “Jane Doe” that arrives to them is a mystery from the start. Having been found in a home buried in dirt, she shows no external signs of trauma. However, both her wrist and ankles are broken. As they cut up the body they find even stranger clues to her possible death. Her lungs are charred, which could only happen if she was burned alive, but her skin shows no signs of such a fate. Scar tissue sporadically marks her heart as if she’d been stabbed, but nothing externally proves that to be the case. Her tongue has also been removed, and as they continue to find more oddities in their body Tommy becomes increasingly obsessed with figuring out the cause of death, despite a hurricane hurdling its way toward their small town.
The Autopsy of Jane Doe is a compellingly dark film, inoculating from beginning to end, that is suspenseful and will keep you on your toes. The fact that we take the point-of-view of both Austin and Tommy, keeps us in check as to what is actually going on, offering very little, and figuring out the film alongside our protagonists. Tommy’s expertise becomes our expertise and as they dig deeper their scientific knowledge can’t quite explain the unfortunate fate of this young woman. As they inch closer to her dark secret, a full picture begins to form as it galvanizes in the climax and third act, in a twist you won’t see coming.
IFC Midnight’s The Autopsy of Jane Doe, played this weekend at Ithaca Fantastik Film Festival in Ithaca, New York. The film is directed by Troll Hunter director André Øvredal. It will have a limited theatrical release December 21, 2016. For more information on Ithaca Fantastik Festival visit their Official Website