Not much life here
Movies have been bringing back the dead since the days of “Frankenstein,” so the basic premise of “The Lazarus Effect” is nothing new. And sadly, despite a talented cast and some creepy moments, the film feels like a cheap retread that you keep watching and waiting and hoping will get better and then… It doesn’t.
Fans of actor Mark Duplass (“Safety Not Guaranteed”) will be particularly disappointed because he is perfectly cast as Frank, and the equally talented Olivia Wilde plays the other half of the scientist couple that hopes to make a groundbreaking medical discovery by mixing chemicals and electricity in order to revive the dead. When the experiment seems to work on a dog, there is hope among the small research team (Donald Glover and Evan Peters), while a young woman (Sarah Bolger) captures the results on film.
As in all movies of this type, something goes terribly wrong and the group’s work needs to be used in an emergency situation on one of the team members, and the inevitable disaster ensues. The key to success with “The Lazarus Effect” would have been not necessarily to provide surprising plot developments, but rather to make stylistic choices that brought something fresh to the genre.
Instead, after a decent first 45 minutes, “Lazarus” dissolves quickly, a particular shame because the PG-13 horror category needs fresh blood. Sure, teenagers might have some fun at the theater with this film; there are a few creepy moments that will make your date want to snuggle up close. But unless you haven’t seen any horror movies before, almost all of the plot devices will be familiar. You can’t get any more clichéd these days than a villain with blacked-out eyes.
Those who love cult horror films might sense déjà vu here with “The Lazarus Effect” channeling the basic story of the 30-year-old “Re-Animator.” That film was groundbreaking for its dark, grisly humor, psychosexual undertones, and outrageous (for its time) gore. It’s fine if a film strives to be a tame horror film that might appeal to mass audiences, but “The Lazarus Effect” won’t be remembered 30 minutes from now, let alone 30 years.
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of horror violence and some sexual references.