83 min - Thriller
Review: Kathryn Waite
If there has been any strong lesson in horror movies involving
scientific experiments it is this: do not play god. Whether you
are a scientist who has discovered a way to morph the DNA of two
creatures together (The Fly) or you have revived a species of
creature that have been extinct for many millenniums (Jurassic
Park), you do not tinker with creating a new form of life…
or a deceased form of it for that matter. The film this review
is for falls into the latter category of bending the rules of
death. The Lazarus Effect questions the boundaries of medicine
in the pursuit of reviving the dead. Unfortunately, the movie
does not produce the scares or the compelling plot needed to give
this film any form of life in it.
On the floor of a university laboratory, science researchers Frank
(Mark Duplass) and his fiancée Zoe (Olivia Wilde) have
just created a serum that can revive the dead long after they
have passed. The full side effects of the drug are not fully known
to the team. During one of their final experiments, things go
horribly wrong and kill one of their own. In a moment of desperation
and insanity, the team revives their other member only to discover
the true power and terror the serum can awaken in a person.
I will give credit where credit is due, the camerawork and set
were very well crafted and produced. Nothing about their location
felt cheesy or unrealistic. The use of security cameras throughout
the film to show characters locations was reminiscent of the indie-hit
video game “Five Nights at Freddie’s”. Director
David Gelb (who directed Jiro Dreams of Sushi) has an eye for
great composition for his films. He definitely worked hard to
make sure the shots were well framed. The glaringly obvious thought
that most people would have when reading this is, “I don’t
care about the sets! Is it scary?” that is a valid question
that is certainly a matter of personal taste. Lazarus is not on
par with The Conjuring (James Wan) or Drag me to Hell (Sam Raimi),
due to its obvious lack of a real, surprising scare. Gelb uses
the expected tricks of the horror film playbook with blinking
overhead lights, villains moving at inhuman speed, and jump scares
that happen after the “fake scare”. Gelb never stretches
his boundaries to do anything experimental with the film and that
is to his detriment. My husband, who VERY rarely watches a horror
movie with me, found that Lazarus Effect was scary for him at
a few points. So in short, if you are a scary movie buff this
film will not bring anything new or interesting to your world.
If you fall into the category of my husband, this movie might
be a good way to get your feet wet to the genre without having
terrible nightmares for weeks.
The film is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of horror, violence,
terror, and some sexual references. When a character is killed,
you do not really see any of the gory details of their demise.
The sexual references are very minimal and honestly forgettable.
There are a few dream sequences about a burning building that
could scare young children. I would recommend this to the age
rating suggestion and older only. Unless you are new to the scary
movie world, just wait for this one to appear on Netflix or Redbox.
I give The Lazarus Effect a two and a half out of five serum syringes.
Even though the film is only 83 minutes long, it does not produce
the scares needed to keep an audience member engaged and interested.
It feels dead in the water from the beginning and nothing can
bring it to life.