The film Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016) is dubbed a supernatural horror film that follows father and son Tommy and Austin Tilden who are tending to their morgue business. It seems like a normal night in until they receive a body that is mysterious and brings on a slew of unexplainable events. In this particular film, it is yet again another female character who is seemingly dead but is able to wreak havoc on the unsuspecting father and son. According to Robin Wood’s The American Nightmare, the concept of “the Other” represents what the bourgeois ideology cannot seem to accept. One of these is the Woman. “The woman as the Other assumes particular significance. The dominant images of women in our culture are entirely male created and male controlled” (Wood, 2009). In this film, the concept of the Other as a Woman comes in the form of Jane Doe who the police officers cannot identify at all. She remains a mystery until she is handed to the Tilden’s for an autopsy.
“The Monster is, of course much more protean, changing from period to period as society’s basic gears clothe themselves in fashionable or immediately accessible garments” (Wood, 2009). As the audience comes to realize Jane Doe’s identity and how she came to be that way, it is evident that the film tried to integrate a time period that has been left untouched in modern horror film. According to History (2017), the Salem Witch Trials was a period in time where men, women, and even children were accused of being possessed by the devil and practicing witchcraft. If one were to be convicted, the usual punishment was death by hanging. With most of the horror films I’ve watched lately, I don’t usually encounter ones with the with trope. There have been few and far between like the Blair Witch Project (1999).
The movie overall was very enjoyable and I think that the setting of the film really helped a lot in creating a terrifying atmosphere not only for the audience but for Tommy and Austin as well. The fact that they were seemingly trapped in their basement made it semm that much harder for them to get help when they needed it. The only thing that threw me off about the movie was its ending. Even if the witch aspect was unique, in a way it felt like a cop out to me. Throughout the whole duration of the film, the build up of evidence on Jane Doe was interesting and well paced that I kind of expected something explosive at the end. However, when they stated that it was the numerous torturing rituals that made Jane a witch, it just felt like the film took the easy way out.
Reference: Wood, R. (2009). The American nightmare: Horror in the 70s. Retrieved from http://www.blue-sunshine.com/tl_files/images/Week1-Wood-AmericanNightmare.pdf