Chris : “Movies don’t create psychos; movies make psychos more creative” (Scream). This is my favourite horror movie quote from my all-time favourite horror movie. I’m telling you this because for this month, around Hallowe’en time, I decided to get someone to talk about their favourite horror movie instead, for which I asked the help of EFC member James Crowe.
James Crowe is the founder of Hollowheart Studios, an up and coming company based in Essex that specialises in sound design and music composition, with the goal to make any project that their work on sounding their best. Also, having met James at one of the ESSEX FILM COLLECTIVE’S network events, I learned that he is a massive horror enthusiast, even making a list of horror films he and his girlfriend need to watch. He is just the man to talk to about this genre and to give you something new to watch on Hallowe’en. So, enjoy as we cut into and dissect his favourite horror film!
James Crowe – The Autopsy of Jane Doe
James : As a movie fan in general, but especially a horror fan, I really appreciate movies with incredible practical effects, good music, and a great atmosphere. I thought about my favourite franchises; Halloween, Friday the 13th, Scream, but the horror film that hits all 3 for me no matter how many times I watch it is The Autopsy of Jane Doe. I’ll try to keep this whole thing spoiler-free as much as possible as I think this is a film best experienced yourself. Directed by André Øvredal and with a great score written by Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans, this film, for me, is a masterclass in effective tension building. It straddles the line between supernatural horror and psychological thriller quite well. Once it gets going, it never really let’s go of that tension until the end credits start
The film is about a father and his son, played by Emilie Hirsch and Brian Cox, who receive an unidentified female into their mortuary for an autopsy. They quickly start to realise everything is not as it seems, and there are secrets to be uncovered. As a composer and sound designer, the first thing that I should mention is the score. The main theme is a recognisable and atmospheric phrase of music that works remarkably well in different situations. Whether it’s being used to create a sense of unease as you stare into Jane Doe’s eyes or to accent emotional story beats between our 2 protagonists, it seems to blend into each scene really well while maintaining its identity. And don’t get me started on that Let The Sunshine In song…. that thing haunts my dreams.
The practical effects are top-notch. As a film centred around an autopsy, obviously, the practical effects would make or break this film, and they are extremely solid. The film is not over the top in its use of gore (although obviously there is a bit), and the stuff it shows seems incredibly realistic. The story itself keeps you guessing until the very end, and although there is a final reveal of sorts, it fills you more with a sense of unease than the not knowing, which I appreciate a lot. The way it is shot is very well done, revealing exactly what the director wants to reveal. The acting and relationship between the characters is also a high point, feeling very natural and really quite likeable. This definitely helps when the film wants you to care about the characters, especially in a genre such as
For me, this is the perfect movie if you want to severely creep out anyone watching it with you. I actually bought the vinyl record of the soundtrack to this movie. It came sleeved in bodybag- ish material, and to access the record, you had to open her “chest”, revealing the record to be the heart. Stuff like that made me fall in love with the movie even more, although I rarely play it, maybe I will on Halloween.
Overall, this film left a big impression on me as one of the creepiest, most original and well thought out movies I’ve seen, in a genre that does, unfortunately, have a reputation nowadays for recycling ideas and/or just producing poor films.
Watch this movie!……or make your own and hire me to score it, either way, you’ll have a great time
My Thoughts – Chris Roberts’ take on the film
Chris : There are many different reasons I love horror, but the one thing I love the most about them is the villain. Whether it’s some nut job in a mask, a bloodthirsty monster or some creepy doll, there’s nothing I like more than watching them terrorize poor helpless victims. But how do you do a film where the antagonist does nothing? Instead of stalking its victims or taunting them, it just spends the entire movie lying there, dead. It’s a challenging premise for a filmmaker to do, but it’s one that director André Øvredal accomplices with this film.
The film starts a bit slow with the horror, instead of starting off as more of a noir mystery with our father-son coroner team (played brilliantly by Brian Cox and Emile Hersch) whose job is to solve the mystery behind Jane Doe. I love a good mystery, so for me, this was a massive bonus as their delve deep into the autopsy, trying to figure out the mystery behind her only to get more questions than answers with what they find. As well as a father and son subplot, as the script takes time to focus on them and their strained relationship, we’re are given characters that we root for and compel us to watch. The film also does not shy away from the visceral horror even before the true scares begin, as they start the autopsy and cut into the body. Giving use of some disturbing and graphic imagery, thanks to some amazing prosthetics and VFX, so you better have a strong stomach for it.
When it does get to the horror, though, it dives deep with some truly haunting scenes and some nice jump scares (especially one scene involving a bell) as the film gets darker and more twisted. This being a film selected by a sound composer I thought I should also give a shout out to the music, as usually music doesn’t quite get the recognition, even though their play a key part in playing in selling the scene. Whether it plays with your emotions or, in this case, creates atmosphere that sure to frighten you. Done brilliantly by Saunder Jurriaans and Danny Bensi, creating a bone-chilling soundtrack that works well to add extra tension and a sense of unease to the scenes. I’m no
expert in music, and James has more to say about it, but for me, it was one of the highlights of the film.
So if you’re looking for a new horror film to watch this Halloween and looking for something a little different, then as you can see James and I highly recommend that this is one to be added to your list. It’s a film with a great storyline, captivating performances and something that will truly terrifying you. It is a film that shows, that while she may just be a lifeless body, Jane Doe is a character to truly fear.
My Favourite Trivia
Instead of just using a fake body for Jane Doe, André Øvredal instead hired an actress to play the role for the majority of the film. Played by Olwen Catherine Kelly, she spent the entiety of film lying on the slab and was able to control her breathing to look dead thanks to her yoga training!