Plot: Austin (Emile Hirsch) works as an assistant at a morgue, helping his father Tommy (Brian Cox) provide answers and insights into death. This is not his career path of choice, but since the death of his mother, Austin has felt the need to remain and help, if only to be there for his father. The two have worked on numerous autopsies, but when a corpse arrives from a horrific crime scene, they’ll realize they haven’t seen it all just yet. Found partially buried in a basement, this unidentified Jane Doe was surrounded by other dead bodies. But while she was unscathed on the outside, the others were slaughtered and soaked in blood. As the autopsy gets underway, strange discoveries keep popping up, from broken ankles to paralytic agents. But then signs of ritualistic elements creep in and at the same time, things inside the morgue get unusual. Lights flicker, the radio turns on, and a palpable sense of dread are just the start of things. Who is this Jane Doe and is she just another corpse, or part of something much darker?
Entertainment Value: This one starts off so simply, with a father and son working on the autopsy of an unidentified female, but things get sinister real quick. The setting alone creates some instant dread, since a morgue is not a place most people would want to hang around. The sterile, medical techniques applied give the movie the feel of being rooted in realism, only to take us to much darker places. The atmosphere is excellent and the tension is built with great skill, building from one reveal to the next, each more eerie than the last. The pace is tense, with no real slow stretches or downtime. Once this ride starts, it doesn’t let up until the credits roll. It also helps when you have someone like Brian Cox involved, as he brings such presence to his role. His character is all about cold, hard science and watching him react to the reveals is a lot of fun. Emile Hirsch is more than solid as well, but Cox is just on another level here. This is just skillful horror, with atmosphere, a perfect pace, and great performances. A movie that hooks you from the start and never lets loose. If you’re even a casual fan of horror or thrillers, this is one you have to check out.
Our Jane Doe is naked throughout the movie, but since she is a corpse and all, that might lessen the appeal. The movie centers on an autopsy, so there’s blood and gore, but it never feels overdone. Jane is sliced, cracked open, partially skinned, and dissected in other various ways, mostly shown in vivid detail. One scene where her skin is peeled apart to reveal a stunning discovery is especially memorable, just creepy and gross stuff here. The sounds when the boys work on her corpse are part of the fun, with some wince inducing sound design involved. So there is blood and graphic body dissection, but that is going to happen given the narrative here. There’s a few scenes with more traditional horror style bloodshed, but they’re infrequent. The movie has a dead serious tone and the dialogue follows, so no wacky moments. This is well written, well performed material, which is great news, but leaves us with a low score, since we go by outlandish lines and oddball characters. This plays mostly within the rules of the genre, but pushes out of those lines a couple times. So while it doesn’t go off the deep end, it does throw in some nice twists to keep the whole thing fresh.
Overall Insanity: 2/10