<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by David Gelb. Starring Olivia Wilde, Mark Duplass, Evan Peters, Donald Glover, Sarah Bolger, Amy Aquino, Ray Wise
We’ve seen this kind of thing a hundred times before and done far more interestingly; the Lazarus Effect flat lines as a scary movie.
Initially starting off with shaky cam and almost Paranormal Activity-type footage, The Lazarus Effect does look a bit creepy what with experiments on animals bringing them back from the dead and all that. But the plot quickly loses credibility with a mash up of horror clichés that never scare nor elicit any deep feeling for the characters that are never fleshed out properly.
The Lazarus Effect is reminiscent of films like Frankenstein. Reanimation is something that researcher Frank (Mark Duplass) and his fiancé, scientist Zoe (Olivia Wilde) stumble upon. Their young understudies Clay (Evan Peters) and Niko (Donald Glover) are only too happy to contribute. Eva (Sarah Bolger) joins them to video their experiments but their research is soon discovered and cut short. But they decide to carry on with some terrible consequences.
Their first attempt revives a dead dog that shows signs of being ‘changed’. The film never follows through on this possible terror instead replacing the canine conundrum with a human subject. And then of course with increased brain activity, which is a consequence of the reanimation procedure, she turns evil and they all end up dead one by one as is expected. A subplot is Zoe’s recurring nightmare from her childhood experience of a fire that killed her neighbours.
The problem with The Lazarus Effect is that it’s ineffective as a thriller or a scary movie. Sure they only have 83 minutes but they squander this time simply because they’re on a deadline to up the body count. But there’s neither intelligence nor any interest value in the massacre.
The cast are solid in their performances so it’s not really their fault. The script and direction is where the disappointment resides. Blumhouse is a production company that makes these low budget horror films but they haven’t always been successful. Here’s another one to add to their list.