Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Film Review: The Lazarus Effect (2015)

The Lazarus Effect (Review)
United States/2015 
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No
*A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!

"...an interesting story with some solid frights."

A group of medical researchers develop a serum capable of bringing the dead back to life...

The Lazarus Effect follows these medical researchers: Frank (Mark Duplass), his fiancée Zoe (Olivia Wilde), Niko (Donald Glover), Clay (Evan Peters) and camerawoman Eva (Sarah Bolger) — the characters have about as much depth as their names. Anyway, this group creates a serum named Lazarus, which allows them to revive the dead. Their test on a dog is successful, albeit with some noteworthy abnormalities. When they're shutdown and lose all of their research, the group plan one more experiment to prove themselves. Unfortunately, while preparing their experiment, Zoe is electrocuted and dies. Fortunately, they have Lazarus. (Remember?) So, they reluctantly revive Zoe. The procedure is a success, but Zoe returns with bizarre powers beyond the capabilities of the human mind. The rest of the film essentially follows the rest of the crew as they try to get a grip on the situation... while Zoe picks them off. I wasn't a big fan of certain elements of the ending. I won't spoil it, but I bet you can guess how it ends. (Hint: It's a Blumhouse movie.)

The Lazarus Effect is a decent film. First and foremost, I thoroughly enjoyed the concept. Although it's obviously not the first film to tinker with the concept, it was a breath of fresh air in a smoggy genre. It's also handled well enough, it almost feels more like a Sci-fi film than a horror movie. (Why not both?) It doesn't delve deeply into the ethics of the science, which felt like a missed opportunity, but it does ask a few compelling questions while offering some interesting answers. Much like the ending, the horror is about what you'd expect from Blumhouse: some suspense and plenty of jump-scares. I think there were only two jump-scares that actually startled me. There are some decent nightmarish visuals, too. I wish those visuals were used more often, but alas.

The acting was mostly good. I liked Mark Duplass in this role. (As a side note, I thought he was splendid in Creep.) Olivia Wilde started off great, but she withered during the latter half. The latter half required something more sinister and conniving, I just didn't feel it with her — I think she was miscast for the role. The supporting cast was good, though. The film looks fairly standard — only the nightmare sequences really stood out as attractive. The music was also standard, but it worked well. The soundtrack matched, and helped set, the film's mood. Despite the interesting concept, director David Gelb crafts a by-the-books horror film. It has some unique aspects, but Gelb refuses to take any chances. The writing suffers from some similar issues. Instead of tackling the themes of the film, the writing opts to barely scratch the surface. The characters could have been more unique, too.

Overall, I enjoyed The Lazarus Effect. The film offers an interesting story with some solid frights. It's also paced and balanced well, always staying on its toes and moving forward. However, the film does lack character and its horror is mostly one-note. It's a great way to kill 80 minutes, but it won't leave you with nightmares. I'd recommend a rental or Netflix stream and a purchase if you're a fan of the Blumhouse brand of horror.

Score: 6/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood.

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