The Less Ambiguous Horror Film

Just from the title alone, the Autopsy of Jane Doe promises viewers as a horror film through and through. It was a movie that I enjoyed watching, as it does a wonderful job in building up the intensity of the film.

Going into the movie, it is immediately recognized by the viewers s a horror movie starting it off with the discovery of a dead body. Immediately, a scary situation was shown of how the body got their in the first place, and how it remained intact despite the fire. It was unexplained by logic,ad this contributes to the horror essence of the film. Following that, the setting then shifts to a morgue, another ominous place that exudes the vibe that a horror film would want. This is a big factor of my claim that the movie is a horror film through and through because from the setting alone makes the movie as creepy as what a horror film should be.

One conflict that can be found in the movie is the conflict of science vs. the supernatural. With all the things that are happening to them, Tommy still did not want to accept that what was happening to them was indeed not normal anymore. Going back to a point, the film is riddled is situations that cannot be explained by logic or reasoning. The concept of Hubris is then seen in the movie, where the protagonists refused to admit that what was happening to them cannot be explained by science, and when Tommy finally comes into terms with this, it was too late for them.

But what is it about how this stream of horror that makes it relevant to the horror genre? Since Tommy is a traditionalist, or old-schooled, he couldn’t easily accept all the supernatural things happening to them, as he believes that there is an explanation in everything. This can be supported when they were doing an autopsy on Jane Doe and found a lot of things that they couldn’t describe what was happening. Austin was almost convinced that there was something wrong happening and they should get out of there, but Tommy still wanted to find answers.

This is important because the concept of “The Other” is seen here. According to Robin Wood’s article, The American Nightmare: Horror in the 70s, “The Other” is something that is repressed or oppressed by the society. It is something that is both internal or external of oneself, as long as it is something that is deemed unwanted. This is the dark part of the society, and that’s why the reemergence of the other is considered to be horrifying by people according to Wood. The fact that Tommy strongly did not believed of the supernatural makes it “The Other” in the film and it is manifested in the most direct way, through the monster that is Jane Doe.

Those the society cast out are the dark spots that we shouldn’t dwell on too much, and horror films portray this in the most dramatic or cinematic way. It can be applicable to us now because there are really things in the society that we banish or cast-away because of how they are not accepted by people. Through the concept of “The Other”, it serves as an insight that horror films remind us that the things that we repress, or the other-ing is actually dangerous to society now. It is dangerous because the society now fails to recognize all the things that we repress, and it causes problems once this reemerges to us. An example is poverty, and how people do not take into account this sector of the society or refuses to acknowledge them. But, if this is made more aware to the society, then it causes problems as it questions the kind of society that we live in, where this kind of problem is repressed or not minded by the country. The government will be questioned by other countries, and it just provides more questions and hardships and can only be toned down if this “Other” is repressed again. This kind of “sweep under the rug” society is very alarming, but that’s how the other-ing works, according to Robin Wood.

All in all, I really enjoyed the Autopsy of Jane Doe. All the life lessons aside, the film is honest to its core of being a horror film, being a scary movie in the most direct way. The film offers less mysticism and ambiguity as a horror film, because it is clear as day what is so scary about the movie, and that’s what I like about The Autopsy of Jane Doe.


Robin Wood, ‘The American Nightmare: Horror in the 70s’, from Hollywood from Vietnam to Reagan (New York, Columbia University Press, 1986)


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