Arts & CultureColumnsVisart Diaries

VisArt Diaries: Autopsy of a Horror Film

Happy 2019, we all made it, unless you’re not reading this, then I assume you’re dead. If you’re not dead, then welcome  back.

Let’s start with our resolutions for the year. I previously stated that I was going to read more, play guitar more and watch less movies. So far I’ve read 10 pages of Clive Barker’s Damnation Game, played guitar twice and watched a whole season of “The Wire.” The only thing I’ve kept my resolution for is how little movies I’ve watched, so far. Six. Six lousy movies. Well not lousy. My main resolution for 2019 is to watch less movies, but better movies. What better way to start 2019 than with an underrated one?

André Øvredal’s 2016 supernatural horror film The Autopsy of Jane Doe, starring Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch, somehow fell through the cracks upon its release. I had heard great things about the film and the filmmaker showed great promise with his 2014 found footage gem, Trollhunter. In the same way that Øvredal managed to breathe new life into an often stale found-footage genre, he was able to paint a horrifying-yet-artful picture on a very small canvas in Autopsy.

I’m always a fan of “one-room movies” that manage to create enough tension and suspense to carry a whole movie without venturing far from one specific area. What helps this movie (and would be helpful to most movies) is the 87-minute run time. Sometimes a horror movie’s biggest sin is its runtime. If you’re a fan of The Conjuring, I’d say this movie should pique your interest, but what the film tends to do a little better is simply not give it all away.


Let’s go through the basic plot, shall we? Father and son coroners receive a body of a Jane Doe and must find a cause of death before the next morning. Brian Cox (Manhunter, Rushmore, Super Troopers) and Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild, Milk) act the shit out of such a small film, and it really is a treasure to watch Brian Cox in anything. They easily set up the relationship together and you really feel chemistry between the two characters. Anchoring the film is Irish actress Olwen Catherine Kelly as the titular corpse Jane Doe. For most of the film you’re left in a room with the three characters, one that doesn’t move at all.

Throughout the rest of the runtime you’re left with father and son trying to sort what was the cause of death, while unlocking different pieces of the puzzle that is her death. The film succeeds by leaving a lot of mysteries, which almost give it a dreamlike quality throughout. Sometimes those “Macguffins” can keep the story going and you don’t always need to peel back the onion all the way.

I’d highly recommend this film if you’re into indie horror. At the time I originally wrote this, Visart was one of the few places you could find this gem, but it was recently added to Netflix, garnering plenty of buzz on social media. I’d recommend picking it up from Visart, because you know I’m all about supporting local.

Hopefully over the course of these three columns I’ve been able to express how important Visart is to me. When you go to start your new membership, tell them Josh sent you (they’ll promptly ask, “Who?”). Maybe you don’t live close to Visart (3104 Eastway Dr), though, and that’s fine. In that case, I’ve got a tip for you and it’s free: the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. Your local branch more than likely has a good collections of movies that are often left collecting dust. I mean, you should be going to the library for more than just movies, they also carry these large collections of bound texts called books. Who knew?

Lastly, as if you need more of a reason to visit Visart, they have a monthly series called “Cult Movies in the Cave.” The next installment is The Peanut Butter Solution on Jan 22nd at 8pm. The events are usually free, but donations for the space are highly recommended. Next week’s movie is about a kid that loses his hair and in order to regain his mop, he uses a magical peanut butter solution. Unfortunately, he uses too much and things get hairy!

Upon reading that description and viewing the above trailer I remembered that I’ve seen this movie and somehow convinced myself that it was just a dream I had. From what I do remember, you don’t want to miss this one.

If you’re interested in following my film journey, or want to start one of your own, please follow me on Letterboxd (otherjrobbins), a great social media platform where you can write reviews to movies or simply catalog everything you watch. See you next time!


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