The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)

The most fucked up game of Operation ever!

A father (Brian Cox) and son (Emile Hirsch), both coroners, are pulled into a complex mystery while attempting to identify the body of a young woman.

From the imaginative mind who delivered found footage gem Trollhunter, Andre Ovredal follows up by debuting his first English language feature, The Autopsy of Jane Doe. I’m not gonna lie, I was in no rush to see this film, I saw the word ‘autopsy’ and straight away red flags come up… I was expecting an excessive use of blood, guts and deplorable body horror used as a cheap scare tactic and instead I could not be more wrong. Without a doubt if I had watched this last year it would have appeared in my top five of 2016.

From the beginning Jane Doe oozes with creepiness, the goose bump raising kind of creepiness. The overall atmosphere is chilling and intense, provided by the rich stylized colour palette of dark and dense tones that authentically make everything look murky and dim. But, there is almost a sense of elegance and gracefulness to this masterful morgue mystery. The tension never breaks, the pacing is tight and smooth and enticingly uncomfortable.

It’s always refreshing to watch a horror movie with smart characters, the ones that realistically try to get the fuck outta there once things start to go bump in the night.

The dynamic between Hirsch and Cox is solid, there is a strong rapport and they are instantly believable as father and son. We watch them bicker and bond and act in such veracity, both these characters are filled with such soul. A lesser actor would have fumbled with the script, but both leading men offer such stellar performances. The lifeless Jane Doe, Olwen Catherine Kelly will even command your attention with her blank stare that questionably grows a touch more evil every time Ovredal cuts back to her.

The actual autopsy (cause yes, spoiler alert there is one) is depicted in such crazy detail and incredibly gruesome, but never does it feel gratuitous.

This isn’t a film to pass, its an absolutely chilling clever thriller, if the grisly snap of bones or tinkling of a bell doesn’t frighten you, the explicit but not exploitative body horror will surely make your stomach drop.

9.0 / 10

“Let get the fuck out of here”  

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The Hallow (2015)

The Hallow transports us through a dark and menacing fairy tale. A moody atmospheric horror fantasy with real emotion and clever set pieces, this slow burner wastes no time in showcasing its practical effects.

 Corin Hardy’s directorial debut is an interesting mishmash of traditional Irish folklore with an alluring blend of body horror. A creature feature with a bit of heart, this ambitious monster movie is simple, but creepy.

Adam Hitchens (Joseph Mawle) has just moved his family into any isolated house, bordering the edge of a shrouded forest. The natives warn the family from poking around the woods, but upon discovering a mysterious black fungus, Adam and his family soon find themselves fighting for survival with the demonic creatures of the woodlands.

This dark blend of folklore legend with a dash of real science, creates a clever story with an engaging first act, evoking an aura of mystery and suspense. Its grungy atmosphere effortlessly jumps right into monster mania. With a minimal budget to work with Hardy’s woodland creatures are a welcomed display of practical and digital effects. With shades of District 9, the effects are darkly unnerving, those who can not handle eye trauma may need to look away. Gritty and unsettling, the makeup has you on the precipice of wanting to look away. The use of set pieces also creates an unnerving backdrop for the film. The dilapidated home, the looming forest, all suggest something dark and unsettling standing just out of frame.

The films pace is quick to action, allowing no dead air, at the same time this sacrifices a backstory for our main characters. Therefore, losing what could have been a powerful emotional punch for the final act. Michael McElhattons cameo, as disgruntled neighbour Colm, is fleetingly sparse as well, an unfortunate opportunity lost.

As a whole, The Hallow is an enjoyable entry into the body horror fantasy genre. With its fresh take on the folklore legends, this film offers unique flavours of obscurity.

7.5 / 10

“So are you a believer?”