The Autopsy of Jane Doe: Underrated Witch Horror

Autopsy of Jane Doe - Courtesy of Shudder PR
Autopsy of Jane Doe - Courtesy of Shudder PR /

I have seen what feels like a million horror movies, most of them being forgettable, but there are some that stick with me. The Autopsy of Jane Doe is one of those movies that I think about time and time again. I first watched this movie back in 2016 and I make sure to rewatch it every year; yes it is that good. However, when I mention this movie to others, no one knows about this or has even heard about this movie. The Autopsy of Jane Doe has a score of 86% on Rotten Tomatoes, and an audience score of 71%. So while it may be unknown to others it is highly rated for a horror movie.

**Minor spoilers ahead!

The concept of this movie is fairly simple with a slow burn and doesn’t involve a huge cast of characters, it centers the story around a father and son. The father and son run a morgue that’s been in the family for generations. The son (Austin) is still learning from his father (Tommy) and will eventually take over the business. Everything is routine for them, every body has a cause of death that is more or less easy to explain. Then they get a Jane Doe found in a bloody crime scene, but she is left untouched – or so it seems. As they begin the process, they slowly begin to realize her death was anything but normal – her body bleeds as if she had only been dead for an hour, her tongue is missing, she has broken bones in both wrists and ankles, her lungs are severely blackened, and so much more. Austin and Tommy speculate she had been tortured until they cut a little deeper, realizing it was not just torture but a ritualistic death. As they put the puzzle pieces together, a paranormal force is keeping them from finishing the job. Jane Doe is actually a witch and punishes the father and son from cutting into her in the first place.

The Autopsy of Jane Doe
LOS ANGELES, CA – DECEMBER 19: Movie prop at screening of “The Autopsy of Jane Doe” at Ace Hotel on December 19, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images) /

I really enjoyed the concept of this movie and it has some extremely unsettling moments. As soon as they cut her it is very clear that she was never to be disturbed. The more that’s uncovered, the weirder it gets and you start to question if she is really dead. The movie does a great job of setting the mood, with close up shots of Jane Doe’s face or showing the rooms within the creepy morgue, and the soundtrack also has its own moment.

In my eyes this movie is amazing, however there are moments that fall flat or could be easily criticized. This movie has quite a few cheap and predictable jump scares that don’t seem to pay off. Considering this came out in 2016, the jump scares could have been a lot worse in my opinion. I also think the ending could have been a lot stronger, I wanted to see more of the power that Jane possesses. However, the last 40 minutes is something I didn’t expect on my first watch and I can respect the choice of an unhappy ending.

I am shocked this movie didn’t receive a sequel, it seemed they set it up that way but it never happened. I personally would love the idea of a prequel, seeing what exactly happened to Jane and how she wound up at the crime scene in the first place. Or maybe it’s best to leave the movie untouched and keep us guessing about the mystery of Jane Doe.

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