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.


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