Basically: For something out of my wheelhouse, I really enjoyed this. Will not watch another horror movie for at least three months.
Summary: A mysterious body is brought to a coroner’s office and things happen.
“Wow, Kelly! A low budget horror! I know it’s Halloween, but that’s way out of the box for you!” It is until you realize that Brian Cox and Michael McElhatton are both in this. I will never, ever not love Brian Cox, mostly for Succession, but also Deadwood and let’s be real- Brian Cox cackling in Troy is just the finest display of his Shakespearean training. He is the Poison Ivy of Troy. Also, this movie was an hour and a half, which seemed like the ideal amount of time.
(Also, as brief as his role is, my boy Roose gets to sing in this one. I think. Or at least that’s what I told myself. I was pleased as punch before the following sequence and then I had to keep telling myself that to calm down a little.)
Anyway, Autopsy went mainly under the radar when it first came out but I noticed it’s been popping up on a lot of people’s lists lately as something that was surprisingly good and entertaining. And… I agree. This was directed by André Øvredal, who later went on to do Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, which lacked in story and dialogue but was a lot of fun to watch due to the various techniques to hide the monsters from view and provide very successful jump scares. The same applies here, but with stronger characters and better story. There is a very real relationship between the coroner and his son- a desire to be closer but to also hold the other at arm’s length. For the little they are given, Cox and Emile Hirsch hold this movie together.
Most of all, I really liked how simple this movie was- the location is very simply limited to the morgue and coroner’s office, which lacks in technology and is appropriately cramped as it’s located in a basement. The setting lends the movie a very naturally eerie tone and it was almost as if my senses were heightened- I was expecting the sound to matter and for certain parts of the room to be used. Visually, it’s a very dark movie but for good reason. Instead of relying on special effects-heavy creatures, we’re shown a blurred outline of a person in a mirror or a door opening itself. The dialogue is completely harmless, but add in the score and it changes the tone entirely. And I liked how I was able to view gore and nudity on levels that I don’t normally associate with horror- since it’s a mortuary and they are learning the cause of death and presenting very scientific, factual lines, the overly gratuitous nature of the genre was completely absent.
Now, there are some genuinely terrifying moments. There are other bodies in the coroner’s office that look like they walked off the first season of True Detective. They don’t serve any other purpose except to balance the mystical, unseen elements with tangible entities. It’s a horror movie, it needs those, right? I guess. I’d watch this if you are looking for more drama over horror, but also be prepared to pee your pants a little.