A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
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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?
- 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
For kids who love scares
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