The Lazarus Effect: Film Review – A great premise squandered

Everyone loves a horror film with a relevant back story. Because that makes for a better viewing experience than having to see random ghastly imagery and mutilated body parts. When The Lazarus Effect begins, you get the feeling that you’re watching a thoroughly researched film. We have familiar, talented faces in the form of Olivia Wilde, Donald Glover and Evan Peters. This movie couldn’t be too bad, eh! Oh wait, spoke too soon. The Lazarus Effect goes on to cement the fact that Hollywood’s horror brigade has officially run out of ideas to sell their garbage.

We are introduced to a team of medical researchers helmed by Mark Duplass‘ Frank. The team has spent three years trying to develop a serum that can bring the recently deceased to life. Yeah, like that’s a great idea. But the writers convincingly grab your attention as the concepts are debated and scientific theories are thrown around. Olivia Wilde, especially, provides a grounded performance in the film’s first part, so you have no trouble playing along. In fact, all of it works till her dead character is brought back to life. Post that, the movie tries its level best to scare us senseless. But to no avail.

The problem is that the horror never sets in. There are a couple of tense moments, but the rest of it is just too rushed. At 83 minutes, The Lazarus Effect promises a lot and delivers diddly-squat. Never mind the usual horror tropes like flickering lights and flying chairs. Alternating between actual footage and CCTV recordings, we get to witness the trapped team being hunted down one by one in totally uninspired ways. Even with its promising cast, the film is a lost cause. Also, keeping the ending open to a sequel is probably the boldest move on the filmmakers’ part. 

There is decent cinematography on display though. And the acting isn’t as hammy as one has come to expect of a horror movie. Though its central theme resonates with the much better 1990 movie Flatliners, the execution is just terrible. Originality goes out the window as the end product resembles a horrible mish-mash of The Invisible Man, Pet Cemetery and Lucy. 

Why should you watch this film?

The Lazarus Effect has a talented cast and an interesting plot. Unfortunately, it feels rushed and suffers from abrupt editing, with many of the plotlines never materializing. You are better off steering away from it. The movie’s tag line reads – Evil will rise. My question is – When?

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