The Lazarus Effect, directed by David Gelb, pays homage to Mark Shelley’s “Frankenstein” as a group of scientists play God with life, but their discovery comes with deadly consequences.
Love-bird scientists, Zoe (Olivia Wilde of In Time) and Frank (Mark Duplass – The One I Love), have been engaged for three years and keep putting off a wedding for their professional commitments. While Zoe is keen to get married, Frank is an overly ambitious nerd who wants to continue their work without distractions. The pair have a grant at St. Peternus University in Berkeley, California, to study along with their researcher volunteers Clay (Evan Peters – American Horror Story), Niko (Donald Glover – TV’s Community) and Eva (Sarah Bolger – The Spiderwick Chronicles), who is documenting the study.
The team are pursuing a miracle cure to bring the dead back to life by creating a serum that could restore brain function to deceased organisms. They hope to provide advancements in care for trauma patients and others afflicted with deteriorating diseases. After a few unsuccessful attempts, the group makes some tweaks and successfully brings a dog back to life, but the pooch isn’t the same as he was before he perished. His severe cataracts are cured, he isn’t eating, and he has a creepy and aggressive manner about him.Meanwhile, Zoe keeps having these recurring dreams from her childhood about a fire within her apartment block. The audience gets flashbacks of these dreams, with a smoke filled building block, melting dolls and charred hands that keep Zoe up at night. Meanwhile Frank continues his studies. The university finds out about their desire to play god with dead animals and their experiments and funding get shut down by a large corporation. Deciding to go rogue and be able to see their work come to fruition, the group sneaks into the lab late at night to continue their work. Their desire to get things back on track brings disaster as Zoe has an accident caused by a forgetful rush and is electrocuted. Frank can’t handle the grief and the loss, so he takes it upon himself to resurrect Zoe with the serum they had stored. Initially, the procedure appears a success, but it comes with horrible consequences.
As Zoe’s strange new persona begins to reveal itself, the team quickly becomes stuck in a frightful reality. Zoe’s new form can movie objects through telekinesis, hear people’s thoughts and know what they are going to say before they speak. When the researchers try to relay their concerns to Frank, they fall on deaf ears, but they are all are soon faced with the wrath of a seemingly demonic return.
One of the problems with The Lazarus Effect is its lack of character development. While we get glimpses of Zoe’s life, with the ending giving us more of an insight, the rest of the crew have no back story at all. This makes it hard to connect with them at times. Also, the abrupt end makes the film seem as though it was concluded in a hurry.
Despite it being predictable and lacking any real character development, The Lazarus Effect, is still pretty entertaining. It boats great effects and keen cinematography. It also features enough jump scares to make some of the scenes pretty effective. I wouldn’t recommend paying to see it at the cinema but I would recommend watching it when it comes out on VOD and DVD. While it’s not amazing, it isn’t without merit.
WICKED RATING: [usr 5]
Title: The Lazarus Effect
Director(s): David Gelb
Writer(s): Luke Dawson, Jeremy Slater
Stars: Olivia Wilde, Mark Duplass, Evan Peters
Studio/ Production Co: Blumhouse Productions, Lionsgate, Mosaic Media Group
Sub-Genre: Thriller, Possession Movies