Review: The Lazarus Effect
PLOT: A team of medical researchers invent a serum (which they dub Lazarus) that is capable of bringing dead patients back to life. When one of the doctors Zoe (Olivia Wilde) suffers a deadly accident, they use the serum to bring her back, and while successful, they soon discover that their colleague has changed since visiting the other side.
REVIEW: Does anyone think that premise sounds familiar? If youve seen Joel Schumachers stylish (and gloriously silly) FLATLINERS then no doubt youre getting a profound sense of déjà vu right now, and sure enough David Gelbs THE LAZARUS EFFECT feels like a total rip-off. This is just another in a long-line of Jason Blum micro budget horror flicks that are designed to quickly cash-in and cash-out of theaters. His movies typically make for effective ninety-second trailers that are enough to fool people into buying a ticket, but stretched out to (barely) feature-length yikes.
Its a shame really, as THE LAZARUS EFFECT certainly seemed to have a slicker pedigree than something like OUIJA, with them clearly having spent some effort assembling an attractive cast thats a cut above the genre norm. Maybe Blums indie creds have something to do with it, as while we mostly know him for horror fare Blum has a parallel career as the guy who made movies like THE NORMAL HEART and WHIPLASH happen.
Its a real shame that THE LAZARUS EFFECT came together so poorly, but it cant be denied this is an all-out disaster. Everything about it is just cheap and stale. Good actors like Mark Duplass, Donald Glover and Olivia Wilde are left high and dry by a nonsensical script that gives them nothing to do, and production values that are downright embarrassing for a movie thats primed to go out on 3000 screens. For a team of brilliant scientists, the doctor-couple played by Duplass and Wilde are stunningly foolish, with them early on raising a dog from the dead (Im aware of how stupid that sounds), and then taking him home as a pet even after he exhibits signs of being dangerously unstable. Once Wilde has her accident, the FLATLINERS-similarities become even stronger, with her having brought something evil back with her due to some childhood sins sending her to a place thats decidedly hot.
As for Glover, this talented COMMUNITY alum is absolutely stranded, with a subplot about his attraction to Wilde being ditched early on, and him existing as mere gore fodder, despite the fact that of everyone here hes the only one giving an even slightly charismatic performance. Co-star Evan Peters (of AMERICAN HORROR STORY) embarrasses himself as the requisite stoner (made puzzling by the fact that his e-cig is somehow getting him high do the cartridges come in weed these days?) who I guess is meant to be funny but it so annoying you hope hell be the first one to get knocked off. Even worse is Mark Duplass, who looks downright embarrassed by the inanity of his dialogue (did he owe Blum a favor for financing CREEP?). Olivia Wilde does her best but as she spends most of her running-time possessed, she just walks around look mad and scary, and is never given the chance to actually turn her character into someone youll care about.
Whats really puzzling are the production values. Blums movies are always cost-effective, but rarely have they seemed quite so cheap, with weak gore effects, and the strange choice to include too many stock audio cues that make the film feel much cheaper than it actually is (Wikipedia states the budget is a decent $5 million).
In the end, THE LAZARUS EFFECT is pretty bad but itll be forgotten by audiences so quickly thats its really barely worth reviewing. The only surprise here is that Relativity decided to go theatrical, as it seems far more suited to VOD. Dont be fooled by the cast, THE LAZARUS EFFECT is just another cheapo-horror flick thats not worth your time or money. Skip it and watch FLATLINERS instead.