The Autopsy of Jane Doe ropes in real terror and scary visuals in this 2016 Netflix release

A mysterious Jane Doe brings horror into the lives of a father/son ran morgue.


An unexplainable crime scene leads coroners Tommy (Brian Cox) and Austin (Emile Hirsch) to perform an autopsy on a mysterious Jane Doe (a common name for unidentified females). Her body shows no signs of trauma or any serious injuries, but once they start digging deeper, secrets of her true identity slowly unfolds. With interesting connections to the Salem Witch Trials and using unique “scare” effects, such as hallucinations and jump scares, this increasingly suspenseful movie keeps audiences on the edge of their seats up through the credits, as the truth is only revealed in the last few moments of the movie.

The practical effects overall were great, and nothing seemed overly cheesy. The film had very few effects, compared to other intense horror movies, but the ones included nailed it. Everything looked very grim and the sounds were also terrifyingly realistic. The bone-sawing and skull cracking created a gross, cringey feeling, but combined  with the horror and scares it was a perfect match. From the first shot of the morgue, the old wooden baseboards creak and lights flickered; a dead giveaway the creepy basement was far from normal. One unique idea director André Øvredal uses, is from the very beginning introduces us to the “bell”. Brian’s character Tommy says they tie bells to the ankles of corpses, so if they get put into the freezer in a coma, instead of actually being dead, the coroners can hear the bell jingling and get them out as soon as they can. Foreshadowing much darker events, this “bell” technique set up some unexpected turn of events, which turns out deadly for one character.

The characters go through terrifying hallucinations and graphic/gory visuals are shown to enhance the story’s eerie motive. The film is rated R for “bloody horror violence, unsettling grisly images, language, and graphic nudity”. The film is solely based on the autopsy of this unknown woman, so excessive nudity is used throughout the movie. The gory digging in the organs and sawing of bones was disgusting, but the choice to show all that only increased the sheer amount of terror in this movie, and it was very realistic. The nudity seemed a bit much, as did the bloody corpse digging, but in the context of the movie it all made sense.

Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch’s acting was phenomenal. The decision to have a family run morgue, by a father and son, showed how well a deep relationship could still grow even if the only thing to talk about is murder and dead corpses. It didn’t take long to connect with these characters, and I found myself really caring about what happened to them. You start to feel emotionally attached and when they get hurt you don’t just brush it off. You care and wonder whether they will live or fall victim. Some images shown had me cringing and covering my eyes because it was either too gross to watch, or I was actually too scared to watch; many horror movies fail to achieve.

The Autopsy of Jane Doe: 7.8/10