Thursday, March 09, 2017

The Autopsy of Jane Doe


A slasher movie was big in the 80s and one of its most important elements is a killer often unstoppable and lacking in motivation. Every kill has to have a sense of uniqueness regardless if slasher has a preferred weapon.  And finally, another of the genre’s highlights is an obsession with pain -like the victim must be visibly feeling every entrance of the blade – and sex.

There is no sex in Autopsy of Jane Doe but there is an uncharacteristically pristine and beautiful unidentified corpse aptly named Jane Doe (Olwen Catherine Kelly). Even as a corpse the autopsy has an effect no less different to teenagers getting mangled in a slasher movie. The blade – from simple ones to rib cutters to electric saws – goes over and over again in just one body.  That’s why I think of it as a reverse slasher, the blade doesn’t go in a live victim but it does go in again and again.

At first I try to reason it out that I feel every stab because Jane’s beautiful but there is that same sense even with the first autopsy which was a burnt corpse. And then I considered the camera pointed always to the corpse’s face with its dead eyes drawing attention.

I stare at the eyes even as the body moves with the heavy handed slice somewhere else. Sometimes I would even hear a crunchy sound as blade hits bone. Even looking soulless as it is, the eyes did not remove the feeling something’s wrong in that image. It almost begs the question does Jane feel?  What is the point of seeing the eyes open while the body is carved up with all its gruesomeness brought to bear for 90 minutes?

Classified as a horror movie on a standard Google search it makes sense that the gruesomeness feels like an end of itself. Opening up the body like beef is not meant to skew into a complex procedural drama thus killing the plot. Tommy (Brian Cox) and Austin (Emile Hirsch) Tilden, the only two other protagonist aside from the cold one barely even went into any kind of technical babble. They always seem to be just chopping away.

The scare factor was predictable. How many times did the movie have a character stare at a hole? Looking through a hole often means something will look back. The movie tried to play with the innate fear of being surrounded by corpses only lead to its predictability.  How much setup can there be slicing apart a human body for almost 60 minutes?

A slasher movie too is predictable but at least compared to this, a slasher movie has kinetics: victims can run have that hope and naked people can have sex.