In director André Øvredal’s new horror film The Autopsy of Jane Doe, Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch play father-and-son morticians whose attempt to discover the titular character’s cause of death goes terrifyingly awry. The filmmaker says he was attracted to the script —by Ian Goldberg and Richard Naing — due to the interplay between the two characters and because “it was so scary. The read itself was really really scary.”
Meticulously constructed and almost entirely set inside, The Autopsy of Jane Doe is a very different kind of film from Øvredal’s previous movie, 2010’s Trollhunter, a found footage horror-fantasy shot on location in the wilds of the filmmaker’s native Norway. The director says this change of direction was inspired by the movie he has also made his recommendation for the perfect Halloween watch: James Wan’s supernatural chiller, The Conjuring.
“I remember very specifically, summer 2013, coming out of Conjuring in the theater, being absolutely floored by that movie,” he recalls. “I was so inspired. I actually called my agents and said, ‘Let’s go look for a horror script.’ I had been offered a lot of horror scripts off of Trollhunter, but I hadn’t found something that really spoke to me. And then, a month later, this one lands on my desk and it’s just amazing. The Conjuring is a fantastic Halloween movie. It lets you have time with the characters and then slowly puts them in jeopardy. When the tension comes, it’s so well handled, it’s so original, there’s so many clever ways of creating unease for the audience. It’s a masterclass in how to direct horror. I was literally studying that film on how to do it.”
IFC Midnight is releasing The Autopsy of Jane Doe in select cities and on VOD platforms Dec. 21. See trailers for The Conjuring and for Øvredal’s movie below.