As you’ve probably noticed, movie trailers have become way too long over the years. Rather than getting us excited about movies, they all too often tend to spoil the best parts, making you feel as if you’ve already seen the movie before you’ve even seen it. You’re likely to feel that way as you watch The Lazarus Effect, though the problem isn’t so much that the trailer spoiled all the good bits.
Rather, the problem is that the movie genuinely has so little to offer that it feels like a trailer for the next generic horror movie, stretched out to an impossibly dull 80-minutes. If you’ve seen the trailer for this one, you have literally seen the entire movie.
Directed by David Gelb, The Lazarus Effect centers on a team of medical students perfecting a serum that, in so many words, brings the dead back to life. Not long after successfully re-animating a dog, a freak accident in the lab kills one of the team members, and in a last ditch effort they attempt to bring her back from the dead – with predictably disastrous results.
The most curious thing about The Lazarus Effect is that it features a pretty solid cast of young talents, with fan-favorite actors like Olivia Wilde, Mark Duplass, Donald Glover and American Horror Story‘s Evan Peters comprising the research team. What’s curious about that is the way the movie proceeds to thoroughly waste them, making it feel like one of those movies they all took part in long before they had anything else going on in their careers – by all accounts, however, it wasn’t shot all that long ago.
Olivia Wilde is the star of the show here as Zoe, the chick who dies and then becomes all possessed and what not. The script gives Wilde very little to do before her character’s death and even less to do after, which is a shame because she’s an extremely likeable and talented actress. Same goes for all the other actors in this thing, who are all given almost nothing to work with. The characters, such as Peters’ stoner, are as underwritten as they come, to the point that their names have already escaped my brain.
Though the way it wastes the talents of its stars is one of the biggest bummers of The Lazarus Effect, it’s quite frankly the least of the movie’s problems. The script rushes so quickly to the point where Zoe is brought back from the dead that it’s impossible to really care about anything that’s going on, and once she re-animates, the movie reveals itself to be just another paranormal possession movie – albeit in a slightly different wrapper.
As the trailers completely gave away, Zoe becomes a black-eyed supernatural being once the Lazarus serum is injected into her, and that’s the point when the once dull movie becomes offensively bad, especially to anyone who has ever seen a horror movie. Jump scares and ‘creepy’ flickering lights dominate the latter portions of The Lazarus Effect, as Zoe walks around like a demonic robot and dispatches her friends in the most uninspired and yawn-inducing ways possible.
It feels weird to even be relaying so much of the plot here in my review, but again I must remind you that I’m really not spoiling anything. The trailer for The Lazarus Effect promises a movie wherein a girl dies, comes back to life and then does some creepy things, and the movie delivers on that promise by literally doing nothing more than what you saw in those two-minutes. It’s as one-note as horror movies come – the sort of movie that perpetuates the idea that horror movies are made for idiots.
What’s most offensive is how little The Lazarus Effect has to say, being that it’s dealing with such a fascinating and deep topic of discussion. Rather than delving into that rich idea of human re-animation and bothering to say anything about the topic, the movie takes the lazy approach of being nothing more than another movie about a supernaturally-empowered chick who kills people. It also doesn’t bother to make much sense, even within its own world, but I digress.
By the time the end credits roll across the screen, you’re likely to be rolling your eyes, as The Lazarus Effect takes a turn for the intelligence-insulting and laugh-inducing in the final act. It’s yet another one of those horror movies that is cut from a mold and caters to the lowest common denominator, and you’ll probably leave the theater wondering why the hell you even bother going to see new horror movies on the big screen.
The Lazarus Effect is little more than a reminder that the best horror movies are now found on VOD. So save your money and stay home. The popcorn is free, the rentals are cheap and, best of all, you can rest assured that nobody will come sit down on your couch and ruin the experience with their incessant chatter. Does that sound good to you? Because it sounds great to me.