The Autopsy of Jane Doe

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
The Autopsy of Jane Doe Movie Poster Image
Popular with kids
Great characters, setting in clever but gory horror movie.
  • R
  • 2016
  • 99 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 20 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

No real message except that bad things sometimes happen to good people for no reason.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The Tildens seem to be good people; the father has plenty of lessons to teach his son, both about a coroner's job and about life. They have a good relationship and seem to be able to talk openly and respectfully.


Very strong morgue/horror gore: slicing into a corpse, streaming blood, blood spatters, slicing into organs, brains, bone saws, peeling skin back, etc. Also scary stuff. Neck-slicing, severed tongue, blood puddles. Characters die. Cat is hurt and put out of its misery. Burned body, corpse with face blasted off. Mentions of human trafficking.


The "Jane Doe" of the title may be dead, but she's also naked throughout the movie. Her breasts are shown frequently throughout. Also very brief full-frontal nudity. Reference to "getting laid." Flirting/kissing. Mention of prostitution. Mention of "vaginal trauma."


Several uses of "f--k," plus "s--t," "hell," "pissing," "oh my God," "Jesus," and "Jesus Christ" (as exclamations).

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Autopsy of Jane Doe is a clever, well-made horror movie that takes place in a morgue. It has its share of scary stuff, ghosts, dead bodies, and blood, plus bodies sliced open in various ways, with organs and brains shown. In other words? Expect tons of gross/gory stuff. A cat is also injured and put out of its misery. The corpse in question -- played by a real actress -- is naked throughout the movie, with her breasts shown frequently. There's also a moment of brief full-frontal nudity, as well as sex talk, flirting, and kissing. Language includes several uses of "f--k," "s--t," and more.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byAaron C. April 12, 2020

Haunting & Disturbing. NOT for Kids.

The entire movie involves explicit nudity throughout, but in a non-sexual manner. It also has some disturbing bloody images, some strong violence & lang... Continue reading
Parent of a 9-year-old Written byBobby G. September 20, 2019

Disturbing, extremely scary horror movie

This movie really surprised me. I loved it! Violence 7/10. An autopsy is the main focus of the movie. A woman is cut open with her innards exposed. Disturbing i... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bysullysummer19 November 15, 2020

Well done horror movie

This movie is really well done even though it only takes place in a morgue for most of the movie. For almost half of the movie, both the father and his son (a c... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byshmoop March 10, 2020

Very scientifically accurate.

The 4/5 that CSM gives this movie is absurd. There is a fair amount of nudity like breasts being shown but it's on a corpse and never in a sexual context.... Continue reading

What's the story?

In THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE, as police investigate a gruesome Virginia crime scene, they discover the seemingly untouched corpse of a woman buried in the basement. The body is taken to father-and-son coroners Tommy (Brian Cox) and Austin Tilden (Emile Hirsch). Austin had planned to go out to a movie with his girlfriend, Emma (Ophelia Lovibond), but he decides to stay and help his dad, hoping to make it up to her later. As they begin to examine the body, they discover strange things, such as broken ankles and wrists with no indication of external damage. As they probe further, even stranger things start happening, such as the lights flickering out and a terrible rainstorm trapping them inside the building. Can the Tildens discover the truth about Jane Doe before it's too late?

Is it any good?

Norwegian director Andre Ovredal follows up his terrific Trollhunter with an equally smart and satisfying chiller. The Autopsy of Jane Doe is a fun, spooky movie driven by interesting characters in an interesting setting. After its gory crime-scene opening, the film takes place entirely inside the morgue, the Tilden family's business for three generations, which has expanded into a moody, sprawling, underground chamber accessible only by a creaky elevator and a storm door.

This setting is the perfect place for scary things to happen, but it's also perfect to see the father-son relationship between Cox and Hirsch. Tommy is a dad trying to teach his son important lessons, and Austin is trying to connect with his father on an emotional level. Ovredal's storytelling is sharp and coy, with beautiful, exploratory camera work and clever editing; Trollhunter was a "found footage" movie, but there's no hint of shaky-cam or quick-cutting here. Credit also goes to actress Olwen Kelly, who plays Jane Doe, expressing a kind of mystery and personality without ever uttering a word or making a move.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about The Autopsy of Jane Doe's violence and gore. How much is to thrill/scare viewers, and how much is merely details of a regular day at the morgue? Do all kinds of media violence have the same impact?

  • What's the appeal of horror movies? How is this one different from other kinds of horror movies?

  • What is the father-son relationship like in this movie? Can they talk to each other? Do they help each other? Do they withhold things from each other?

  • Do the Tildens deserve what happens to them? Why do bad things happen to good people?

Movie details

  • In theaters: December 21, 2016
  • On DVD or streaming: June 27, 2017
  • Cast: Emile Hirsch, Brian Cox, Ophelia Lovibond
  • Director: Andre Ovredal
  • Studio: IFC Films
  • Genre: Horror
  • Run time: 99 minutes
  • MPAA rating: R
  • MPAA explanation: bloody horror violence, unsettling grisly images, graphic nudity, and language
  • Last updated: September 21, 2019

Our editors recommend

For kids who love scares

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate