The Lazarus Effect had some potential between a respectable cast who did a good job with what they were given and some nice production values, but the script came across as half assed and delved into horror clichés we’ve seen too many times before and done far better.
The Lazarus Effect
Genre(s): Horror, Suspense/Thriller
Fox | R – 83 min. – $39.99 | June 16, 2015
THE MOVIE – 2.0/5
Evil will rise. Potential will fall.
Movies like The Lazarus Effect frustrate me far more than some of the worst movies (like Muck or Assassin’s Game) because it has a lot going for it from the production design to a respectable cast who give it their all. However, the story is so thin and fast-paced that all the good is squandered with horror clichés and an “I already saw this” vibe.
The story follows medical students at Berkeley — Frank (MARK DUPLASS), Zoe (OLIVIA WILDE), Clay (EVAN PETERS) and Niko (DONALD GLOVER), along with newcomer Eva (SARAH BOLGER) there to record the experiments — are on the verge of a breakthrough, developing a drug that can bring the dead back to life. Their experiments start on pigs and move to dogs recently put down and their latest is a success to the point where a dog, which had cataracts, is suddenly cured. All might be well and good but there’s just something off with this dog and we do get the all important philosophical debate on bringing the dead back.
However, their endeavors catch the attention of the college dean who abruptly shut the program down and before they know it a corporate a-hole (RAY WISE) swoops in and confiscates the paperwork and files claiming ownership. Determined the lay rightful claim to the drug, the group breaks into their facilities and begin the experiments once again.
Things go real bad real fast when Zoe is electrocuted during the experiment, instantly killing her. Desperate to bring her back, Frank uses the serum on her which, after initial failure, seems to have worked. Problem is, she seems to have brought something back with her and she herself went to a dark place, a place she could only describe as hell, reliving a nightmare from her childhood.
What was an interesting premise, albeit strongly resembled Flatliners, turned into straight-up clichéd horror with supernatural thrown into the mix. That’s where The Lazarus Effect really falters is with the screenplay. And while I appreciate any movie that doesn’t overstay its welcome, this one clocks in, when you take away the opening and end credits, a staggeringly short 61-minutes, no wonder once it’s all over you don’t feel like you really watched that much let alone anything with any semblance of substance.
Like I said in the opening, outside of the screenplay, everything else was well done. The acting wasn’t half bad with the likes of Mark Duplass and Donald Glover playing against type; Olivia Wilde is generally creepy when she’s in her demonic mode, and the production design looks nice with well put together sets.
The Lazarus Effect, directed by David Gelb making his fictional debut after making a name for himself on the Jiro Dreams of Sushi documentary, seemed to be made for television viewing and with a few choice cuts for gore and language, could easily air on SyFy or Spike. Although it’s not very good, I think there’s enough there to perhaps make it worth a rental, otherwise wait a year or two for it to show up on the grid.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.25/5
This release comes with a slip cover. Inside is a Digital Copy redemption code.
Creating Fear: The Making of The Lazarus Effect (14:27; HD) – This is a basic behind-the-scenes featurette that include interviews with members of the cast and crew as they discuss the plot and characters.
Playing God: The Moral Dilemma (7:46; HD) – Looks at the idea of bringing the dead back to life.
Deleted and Extended Scenes (4:25; HD) – There are three scenes included that don’t amount to that much or add to the story or characters.
Theatrical Trailer (2:15; HD)
VIDEO – 4.5/5
The Lazarus Effect rises from the dead onto Blu-ray presented in its original 2.40 widescreen aspect ratio and given a nice 1080p high-definition transfer. The picture itself has sharp detail levels throughout and although it is a darkly lit film, where the majority takes place in a dark lab or at night, some colors do pop off the screen while blacks are generally stark and show no signs of aliasing or artifacts.
AUDIO – 5.0/5
The disc comes with a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track and boy does it take advantage of every jump scare and horror scene as well as the bombastic soundtrack/score by Sarah Schachner whose background includes working on Iron Man 3 and The Expendables 2. In any case, it’s a fantastic track, with the LFE channel kicking in for good depth, which really brings the film to life.
OVERALL – 2.5/5
Overall, The Lazarus Effect had some potential between a respectable cast who did a good job with what they were given and some nice production values, but the script came across as half assed and delved into horror clichés we’ve seen too many times before and done far better. The Blu-ray released by Fox is light on bonus material but the video and audio transfers are both fantastic and almost demo worthy.
Brian Oliver aka The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.