Netflix Grisly Horror Mystery Is A Master Class In Jump Scares

By Robert Scucci | Published

the autopsy of jane doe

I’ve recently developed a newfound appreciation for horror movies that have suspiciously short run-times, and The Autopsy of Jane Doe is a shining example of how an extremely simple premise can evoke a commendable amount of scares. Across 86 minutes, which is the amount of screen time that most Marvel movies need to fold in an unnecessary amount of back-story, The Autopsy of Jane Doe hits the ground running and doesn’t waste any time establishing what’s at stake. I was pleasantly surprised upon the film’s open-ended conclusion, and hope that there will eventually be a sequel. 

How It Begins

The Autopsy of Jane Doe only has two settings, and doesn’t need anything more to get its point across. Homicide detectives are found investigating a bizarre crime scene in which multiple people are found brutally murdered. It also appears that all deceased parties were trying to escape from the unknown evil inside of their house that claimed their lives. 

In the basement, they find an unidentified and unscathed woman (Jane Doe) buried in a shallow grave, which raises suspicion. Needing to know the cause of Jane Doe’s (Olwen Kelly) death so he can inform the press the following morning, Sheriff Sheldon Burke (Michel McElhatton) tasks Tommy Tilden (Brian Cox) and his son, Austin (Emile Hirsch), with figuring out exactly how she died. The rest of The Autopsy of Jane Doe takes place in the basement of the father and son’s funeral parlor as they try to identify a cause of death, which proves to be exceedingly difficult given the circumstances. 

The Autopsy

the autopsy of jane doe

After its quick first-act setup, The Autopsy of Jane Doe shows its namesake, and Tommy and Austin get to work. To their surprise and horror, Jane Doe has no obvious external injuries, but her insides have clearly been ripped to shreds. As they move forward with the autopsy, morgue drawers mysteriously pop open, the power flickers on and off, and the radio keeps tuning into “Open Up Your Heart (And Let the Sunshine In).” 

Science Isn’t Enough

the autopsy of jane doe

Austin has reason to believe that Jane Doe is responsible for all of the strange occurrences they’re experiencing, but Tommy insists that there has to be some sort of logical explanation. As The Autopsy of Jane Doe continues, Tommy comes to the harrowing realization that science alone can’t explain what’s happening in the examination room.

Jump Scares Done Right

Through the use of expertly placed jump scares, The Autopsy of Jane Doe never feels cheap. While I’m quick to criticize supernatural horror movies for overusing jump scares, I have to give this movie its due credit because I jumped out of my chair on multiple occasions because I wasn’t expecting them. 

The one setup that repeatedly caught me off guard in The Autopsy of Jane Doe was Tommy’s old school approach, which involved tying bells onto the toes of the deceased to make sure his test subjects were actually dead. Whenever I heard a jingle reverberate through the darkened hallways, I knew something was about to go down. Even though this plot device was established early on to imply later scares, the film’s claustrophobic setting allowed for these tense moments to have satisfying payoffs each and every time they’re introduced. 

Stream It Now


The Autopsy of Jane Doe does exactly what it sets out to do, and I’m surprised that a sequel hasn’t been developed. As a standalone film it gets the job done, but the premise it introduces begs to be further explored with either a continuation or a prequel installment. When you get around to watching this title on Netflix, I’m confident that you’ll be inclined to agree with me.