Out of all the horror movies shown in class I would have to say that without a doubt the Autopsy of Jane Doe was the scariest. It was more of a horror movie in the traditional sense since it actually invoked the feeling of fright or horror into people. Growing up an avid horror fan though, it didn’t scare me, nonetheless as a self-declared film buff I appreciate it as a very well made film. In many ways that’s what makes this film a good film, even though it doesn’t scare you, you’re still inclined to watch it and see how it goes.
One of the first things you’d think to yourself after watching the movie is how it does so much with so little. For most parts of the movie there was only two characters, three if you include Jane Doe, yet there never seems to be a need for more characters or additional dialogue from a third party to keep the plot going smoothly. Aside from only using two main characters to carry the dialogue, most of the film takes part in only one room, their operating room, yet it doesn’t feel awkward or out of place. It takes extreme talent and very precise film making to make a film work with so little let alone to make it feel so natural.
I also have to commend the relationship of Austin and Tommy. They have a very believable depiction of a father-son relationship. The two of them are very close from working together yet they still have issues, that don’t really look like a big deal but you know it is to both of them. There’s a certain level of depth with this film. Yes it’s a horror film but aside from Jane Doe there’s a lot of other things going on with the characters; it makes them look like they’re real people instead of just some movie characters doing their roles to keep the plot moving. There’s Tommy and his professionalism at his work, there’s his son Austin and his girlfriend, there’s the sheriff who wants to find out what’s going on. Then you have Tommy who likes sticking to the scientific facts probably because he’s done this for so long and he’s seen a lot compared to Austin who still has room for the what-ifs and is curious about the cases, which could be him seeing himself as more than a coroner compared to his dad that would rather stick to being a coroner. In short the characters actually seem like real people.
Furthermore the Autopsy of Jane Doe is scary in more than one way. It doesn’t just scare you with jump scares nor does it just give you lingering thoughts at the back of your head that there might be something behind you, beyond that it makes you think. Jane Doe was othered during her time alive and was called a witch. Jane Doe was seen as something different to other people during her time; she was the “other”. Because she was different she was from the outside looking in. In many ways she was objectified and there was a clear distinction between her and everybody else during that time. If you go back to the history of all the witch trials most of it would show similar themes with women with power or strong women would be othered simply because they were different from the rest of the women.
And that’s a common theme with things that scare us, we’re scared of things that are different from us because we don’t understand them. The Jane Does and John Does of the world are things that we don’t know; their mysterious to us, and that mystery may be intriguing sometimes but sometimes they can also be scary. Now a days this is still very much prevalent, of course people now are more politically correct but there is still an othering going on. There is a distinction in every given place be it a community or school between the majority, mainstream, opinion or way of living or doing things and the others. The majority is scared of the minority just for the minorities existence and the minority is uneasy of being the minority because it’s scared it may have to adjust to the majority. As far as witch trials go we’ve come a long way from that but we still have a long way to go. Othering can only truly be stopped once we start embracing different things and try to understand them.
Throughout the movie that was the downfall of Tommy. You could call it Hubris or just being hard headed, but whatever it was Tommy was closed off to anything else other than what he believed in, which was science. He tried to approach everything from a logical point of view. And his refusal to admit that Jane Doe was something that he couldn’t understand with science was his downfall. Jane Doe was the other and Tommy was the traditional and the conventional that kept trying to understand Jane Doe through his own means.
The ending of the movie revealed that most of what happened was only within their imaginations or what Jane Doe wanted them to see such as the storm. I guess you could view that as a symbolism to how our struggle with the other is sometimes similar to the storm,just imaginary.