I’m sure you’re all familiar with the biblical story of Lazarus, but in case you’re not, here’s the gist of it. According to the Gospel of John 11:1-44, Jesus is told that Lazarus is ill. Jesus resurrects Lazarus after he had been buried for four days. Writers Luke Dawson and Jeremy Slater and director David Gelb attempt to use this old story as scientists are looking for a way to advance medical technology by being able to bring a living being back from the dead. But the consequences turn out to be much greater than imaginable.
Olivia Wilde and Mark Duplass star in this interminable science fiction horror flick that not even Jesus himself could bring back to life nor would He want to. The film begins at a science lab where a small group of research scientists and a documentary cinematographer are working and witnessing the resurrection of a sweet old dog. The Lazarus Effect Serum is successful as they see this old fellow seem to not only fight and come back from death, but to also counteract the onslaught of age related diseases such as cataracts. The researchers explain to the cinematographer about the science behind the serum and the DMT’s (I’m still not sure what DMT’s are, but there are a lot of them!) in the patients system. But something goes wrong as the dog becomes aggressive and the serum doesn’t dissipate as anticipated. This is where the film devolves into a low B grade horror flick. With the overuse of acronyms and the initials DMT, the pair attempt to pull a political verbal feat: use lots of words, but say nothing at all.
True love is at the heart of this film. When Zoe (Wilde) dies, Frank (Duplass) uses the serum to bring his betrothed back to life. Picture a Zombie meets LUCY (the film with Scarlett Johansson) as the DMTs are out of control and Zoe is using 100% of her brain! Inexplicable events occur as Zoe shows her true bloody colors. It’s a gruesome mess filled with things that go bump in the dark.
“The Lazarus Effect” is just another dead body on the pile of failed films with a similar theme. Wilde is a simply gorgeous and a talented actress, but in this film both she and Duplass are just reading lines. There is palpable tension throughout the film, due to the filming technique, but that tension is followed by a roll of the eyes. The use of strobe lighting, (every horror movie has to have the lights and backup generator fail, you know) increases the feeling of suspense and surprises the viewer with typical horror film “gotchas.”
“The Lazarus Effect” is a mediocre sci-fi horror movie that attempts to draw people in with the star power of Olivia Wilde and Mark Duplass. What it forgot to do is write a script that’s interesting, full of possibilities or plausibility and isn’t completely predictable. The babbling of supposed scientific jargon assumes that the general population didn’t pass the second grade.
Perhaps if this film came out on Halloween or at least closer to that holiday, it would have been a bit more fun to see. The script, direction, believability or ability to suspend belief, along with less than adequate acting and a poor release date make this a must-skip movie. Even if you are an Olivia Wilde fan, skip it. She spends most of the movie looking rather pasty. Death will do that to you.
2 Reels (because it had a cute old dog that reminded me of my old buddy Bongo)