the autopsy of jane doe red band trailer

When I left the theater after seeing The Autopsy of Jane Doe at Fantastic Fest last month, the first thing I did was try to find a way to steady my nerves because this movie is scary as hell. The second thing I did was wonder how IFC Midnight was going to market a movie that takes place almost entirely around an autopsy table, with an increasingly, uh, examined dead body being central to much of the plot. The easiest answer: a red band trailer, of course.

Directed by André Øvredal (who also made the wonderful Trollhunter a few years back), The Autopsy of Jane Doe follows a father and son mortician team who are tasked with discerning a cause of death for a seemingly untouched and unidentified woman. As they literally dig into her body in search of clues, they uncover something really, really bad and things get really, really bad. This trailer does a pretty decent job of teasing the film’s stark, clinical gruesomeness alongside its generally creepy and claustrophobic atmosphere.

What the Autopsy of Jane Doe red band trailer doesn’t do is present just how good Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch are in the lead roles and showcase their wonderful chemistry. The vast majority of the movie is these two men alone in a room with a dead body and their dialogue is sharp and their relationship wonderfully defined. This is a more character-driven movie than the trailer suggests and as I explained in my review, it’s genuinely interested in letting its two smart characters be, well, smart:

That’s the real appeal of The Autopsy of Jane Doe. Beyond the undeniably effective scares, this is a movie about the point where the scientific process and detective work collide and how those methods of thinking become valuable weapons in a war they were never intended to wage. The bulk of the film is the autopsy itself, depicted in detail so gruesome that it will unsettle many stomachs, but for Cox and Hirsch, the inside of a dead body is another day at the office and Øvredal treats it as such. Watching this father and son take notes and collect samples and chat their way through a biological mystery is as thrilling as the scenes of pure terror that follow. And because these characters have been presented as so smart and because they’re smart enough to know when to fold ’em and walk away, it’s up to the rest of the movie to provide worthy roadblocks.

The Autopsy of Jane Doe is set to open on December 21, 2016. Since this is an IFC Midnight release, VOD may be the best option for many viewers, but if you have the chance to see this in a theater with an audience, you should take it. Here’s the official synopsis:

Experienced coroner Tommy Tilden and his grown-up son Austin run a family-owned morgue and crematorium in Virginia. When the local Sheriff brings in an emergency case — an unknown female corpse nicknamed ‘Jane Doe’, found in the basement of a home where a multiple homicide took place — it seems like just another open-and-shut case. But as the autopsy proceeds, these seasoned professionals are left reeling as each layer of their inspection brings frightening new revelations. Perfectly preserved on the outside, Jane Doe’s insides have been scarred, charred and dismembered — seemingly the victim of a horrific yet mysterious ritualistic torture. As Tommy and Austin begin to piece together these gruesome discoveries, an unnatural force takes hold of the crematorium. While a violent storm rages above ground, it seems the real horrors lie on the inside… 

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