The Lazarus EffectTitle: The Lazarus Effect (2015)
Director: David Gelb
Runtime: 83 minutes

I knew little about The Lazarus Effect before I went to see it. I don’t even know what possessed me to go see it on opening day, to be honest. The buzz online was negative, and the 83 minute runtime seemed a bit short for my $6.90, but there I was, with little knowledge of what I was about to experience.

I’ve already seen everything The Lazarus Effect does in its short runtime, and it was done better everywhere else. A group of scientists are working on a serum to help coma patients. During a study on a dog corpse, the serum revives the dog back to life. The dog acts funny, and goes Cujo on the cast. But wait! There’s more! If you’ve seen the trailer or the poster, you know what happens, but for spoilers sake, I will just say someone dies and is brought back. The death is hysterically bad, but what’s worse is that from here on out this is a carbon copy of 2014’s Lucy, only with a horror twist.

I’m not sure where this project went wrong. The twists and turns are so predictable that I don’t even know if they can be called twists, except for the one that the trailers spoil. The scares are typical “turn the camera and someone is there” fare. The film’s big finale is a flickering light environment, but it feels off, as do some plot elements.

There’s a great cast here too, but they do nothing but add to The Lazarus Effect’s terrible existence. Olivia Wilde is a beautiful gal, and has had some decent roles. However, she destroys every scene she is in because the film requires a great deal of emotion, and what we get is a really bad Carrie White impersonation. Mark Duplass is at least charming in his role, but he’s so underdeveloped as the main male that I just didn’t care what happened to him. We also get Evan Peters (American Horror Story) playing the typical goofy stoner who just exists on the screen.

I’m not sure how the director of Jiro Dreams of Sushi took the reigns on a horror film, but here we have David Gelb in the director’s chair, and I have no idea what he was thinking. The film does keep a good pacing, but it has some of the worst kills I’ve seen on the big screen in some time, and the lighting in the big finale just seems lame.

Maybe it’s the script’s fault. It follows every single horror trope ever established. There’s even a “creepy” red ball that bounces across the floor. Then there is the God awful CGI that covers up some otherwise fantastic practical effects in the films big finish, and it leaves me wondering why and how this film got a theatrical release in the first place.

The Lazarus Effect is the kind of terrible horror film that hits theaters in January, when people are desperate to see something, anything. Even worse is that despite us getting two Friday the 13th’s this year (the date, not the films), The Lazarus Effect opens directly between the two, which makes no sense to me. Sadly, I fell victim to this February horror entry which looked good and sounded promising. The Lazarus Effect delivers absolutely nothing worthwhile, or redeeming. I’d gladly recommend Lucy or May over this film any day.

half_star

Chris Ranson
Film Critic at Cinefessions
Chris was raised on horror films, which gave him a deep love for the genre, especially its most quirky and offbeat titles (like A Nightmare on Elm Street 2). This love quickly turned into an obsession for cinema in 1997, when he decided he needed to see every major theatrical release. Video games (JRPGs), reading (anything but fantasy), and reality television (Survivor) are just some of his other passions. He's been with Cinefessions since 2013, and has been writing reviews all over the internet for the past twelve years.