Movie Review - The Lazarus Effect
David Gelb’s horror-fantasy is part Frankenstein and part Stephen King, as a group of researchers cross “a line that was never meant to be crossed” and play God by inventing a method that can bring experiments back to life. After their project is shut down for being a gross perversion of scientific and natural law, the group decides to continue their experiments in secret. A freak accident causes Zoe’s death, who is engaged to fellow researcher Frank (Mark Duplass), and she is unceremoniously torn back from the brink of eternity and returned to life. But alas, as such is the motif with this type of film, Zoe returns to her body but she appears to have a sinister force riding shotgun with her soul. And so we have the flimsy pretext of The Lazarus Effect.
The Lazarus Effect has all the makings of a good movie, but ends up being an easily forgettable horror film. Director Gelb has released solid work in recent years, but his specialty is documentary film—not horror, and frankly it shows. The movie relies on the magician’s hat of horror movie iconography: flickering lights, jumpy type scares, and mise-en-scene that appears to be pulled from the cutting room floor of the worst Wes Craven film.
This could have been a really enjoyable film. The exposition set the film to actually explore some deep philosophical questions about morality and the afterlife, but unfortunately it quickly dissolves into a cheap scare-fest and uninspired film-making.
I will say this, all of the actors turned in excellent performances. Olivia Wilde didn’t disappoint as usual. Her moments as the haunted Zoe were incredible. She almost took on a serpentine like grace as she interacted with her former world. Her looks, expressions, body movements, were all flawless and completely in character of one who was a living abomination. At least as I imagine they would. Still, despite admirable performances by Wilde, Duplass as her guilt-stricken lover, and others including Donald Glover, Sarah Bolger, and Evan Peters, it wasn't enough to save this film from mediocrity.
- T.C. McKeever