Starring Olivia Wilde, Mark Duplass, Evan Peters, Sarah Bolger
Directed by David Gelb
What if you had the power to bring back your loved ones from the dead… Would you? And more importantly… Should you? That’s the question explored in The Lazarus Effect, and it’s not unlike many other resurrection-themed horror flicks, the most popular among them being oldies-but-goodies Re-Animator, Pet Sematary, and of course Flatliners.
Taking place almost entirely inside a lab, we follow a small team of ambitious and curious medical mavens who, through some secret and unscrupulous experimentation, have found a way to bring the dead back to life. They achieve this by using a serum codenamed “Lazarus” after the famous Biblical figure who owed his life, literally, to Jesus H. Christ.
After the seemingly successful restoration of a frozen fido, the team members think they’re the new dog-God. So, in spite of some strange behavior shown by their first patient, they try it again with another perished pooch. And wouldn’t you know it? One of the lead researchers, Zoe (Olivia Wilde), dies in a freak accident during the process. No prob, according to her boyfriend and fellow M.D., Frank (Mark Duplass) – they’ll just inject Zoe with the life-restoring elixir, and all will be right again…
Zoe returns from the other side with a whole new, and evil, side to her personality. She shows her gratitude by stalking and slaughtering her fellow scientists one by one.
Wilde and Duplass are joined by an up-to-the-task cast, and there are some moments of genuinely suspenseful mayhem (especially in the beginning, when the lab dog, arguably as good as an actor as its human counterparts, starts going bonkers) – but aside from that, the movie is pretty standard issue jump-scare, PG-13, CGI-heavy, popcorn horror by the numbers.
That is not necessarily a slam. In fact, I quite enjoyed the thriller as it unfolded, and it kept me interested throughout even though I, of course, anticipated each and every twist and turn. What saves The Lazarus Effect from the “forgettable ghetto” is its leads — and quite frankly, I am a little surprised Wilde and Duplass would do this meh movie, based on their more eccentric choices in quirky, brilliant projects like Her and The Love I Love (respectively).
I don’t expect reinvention of the wheel as long as a movie rolls along well enough. And this one does.