The Lazarus Effect (2015)
“Evil will rise”
The Lazarus Effect (2015)
Director: David Gelb
Cast: Olivia Wilde, Mark Duplass, Evan Peters
Synopsis: A group of medical students discover a way to bring dead patients back to life.
According to The Lazarus Effect, Hell is an eternal replay of the worst moment of your life. Some might crack wise about how that means they’re now doomed to spend eternity watching this movie, but I wouldn’t be so flippant. And, anyway, I’ve seen this movie…
Hell has received a visit from research scientist Zoe (Olivia Wilde – The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, Rush) who accidentally died during an experiment to bring the body of a dead dog back to life. Undoubtedly, she and her fellow scientists would have had a good chuckle over the irony of dying while trying to resurrect the dead had they had the time, but very shortly after returning to life when her fiancé Frank (Mark Duplass) substituted her body for the dog’s, Zoe starts acting strange enough to make everyone just a little bit nervous. She isn’t the first subject of this procedure, you see; that honour belongs to Rocky the dog, whose initial apathy immediately after returning from doggy heaven has given way to growling fits and curious habits such as late-night raids on the fridge, and standing on Zoe’s bed to watch her as she sleeps – which is, by far, the best scene in the entire movie…
Such odd behaviour from a test subject would be enough to dissuade many from repeating the experiment – after all, everybody knows God doesn’t take kindly to people messing with his Grand Design – but Frank stubbornly disregards the objections of the junior members of his team, all of whom will later come to regret his stubborness. It seems that Zoe was harbouring a guilty secret from her childhood, and temporarily visiting Hell, in which she was forced to endlessly relive the source of that guilt, has triggered some sort of psychosis which is only worsened by the fact that the serum that resurrected her has also boosted her brain power to Carrie White levels.
You have to wonder how The Lazarus Effect, a movie with a startling lack of original ideas, can earn nine times what it cost to make. I mean, really, what is wrong with people? Don’t they realise that by paying to watch bad movies like this they’re simply encouraging filmmakers to churn out more of the same? Everything about The Lazarus Effect is so mind-numbingly predictable that you have to wonder why it required two writers to come up with the screenplay – unless, of course, one was needed to prod the other back to wakefulness each time the tedious script got the better of him. The film is so short of genuine scares in its first half that director David Gelb is reduced to using jump cuts in a futile attempt to generate scares out of situations completely bereft of danger. The early scenes of a movie are normally an opportunity to flesh out its characters, but those to be found in The Lazarus Effect are nothing more than blank canvases; they might as well be plastic dolls reciting one of a half-dozen stock phrases each time they’re presented with yet another cliched horror situation. Olivia Wilde makes a decent attempt to breathe life into her one-dimensional character, but even an actress of her merit has little hope of creating anything worthwhile out of this mess, and you have to wonder why she got involved in the first place. At least Zoe’s methods of murder are a little eccentric, with one character choking on an e-cigarette and another being crushed – rather unconvincingly – inside a steel cupboard. But the movie’s outcome – right down to the ‘twist’ ending – is never in doubt. The Lazarus Effect isn’t a bad movie – it’s simply a movie that has no reason to exist. Having said that, given the remarkable profit it made at the box office, we can no doubt look forward to ignoring a sequel any day now.
(Reviewed 14th November 2015)