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Review: The Lazarus Effect

Relativity Media: Oliva Wilde in "The Lazarus Effect"It’s not everyday that you get to see someone like Olivia Wilde starring in a horror film. Movies of this genre are usually filled with actors who no one has ever really heard of. That’s one of the reasons I was caught off guard when I saw her, Mark Duplass and Donald Glover being featured in The Lazarus Effect. Granted, they’re not the largest names in Hollywood today, but they’re still known by many.

The film surrounds an ambitious team of researchers in the medical field doing their best to find a way to bring the dead back to life. It’s a risky proposition that becomes a reality once they create a serum with the ability to do that. So far, they’ve only ran tests on some lifeless animals, but they choose to put it to use on a human subject once Zoe (Wilde) dies in an accident. The test on her is successful, but the team will soon question their decision once they realize that she’s different than the woman they cared for.

Without going into much detail about what I’m talking about, I’ll just point out that there’s no suspense, thrills or drama in anything that happens in The Lazarus Effect. Attempting to add that would have placed the creators in a position to be able to make a feature that contained some kind of value for anyone not receiving a paycheck from it. Instead, we’re offered something very dry, predictable and a complete waste of time for anyone with a pulse (and without a paycheck).

For some people, the fact that The Lazarus Effect is only 83 minutes long is a blessing. It appears to be something that’s quick and easy to watch. Unfortunately, that’s not actually the case once you notice that it’s quite a bit longer than it should be. As a matter of fact, it feels as if it’s one of the longest short movies of all time.

The reason why it’s done this way is because they don’t have a whole lot to do in the movie. In order to stretch this movie out to something that would last longer than the average sitcom, they decided to include a bunch of stuff that’s completely unnecessary and lack any sort of payoff. We hear about the whole religion versus science thing that seems to be becoming more prominent in film for whatever reason, but there’s also some dumb stuff about relationships that disappears from the screen faster than it shows up.

When taking that into account, you also can’t be too shocked when I say that there’s nothing remotely scary about The Lazarus Effect. As a matter of fact, they don’t even attempt to try anything that could be perceived as scary throughout the overwhelming majority of the movie. As a result, we get something that’s essentially a story about trying to bring a dog back to life and taking care of it for a while. This point also includes all of the religious/science stuff that I just spoke about.

When we get to the horror elements that are in here, we basically get to watch something that’s a blend between Pet Sematary and Lucy. You read that correctly, and that’s no exaggeration. Someone is clearly a fan of those two movies, because that’s exactly what this is. Olivia Wilde’s character dies, her loving fiancé brings her back to life, and then she gains these crazy powers since she’s now using more than ten percent of her brain. It’s literally Lucy and Pet Sematary combined, but it takes place in a lab.

As I’ve said before, The Lazarus Effect is a rare horror film due to it having a cast filled with some notable names. Beforehand, I thought that this could either lead to it being a good movie or something that spoke to the faltering nature of the career of someone like Olivia Wilde. Unfortunately, it leans more toward Ms. Wilde’s career not being what it was a couple of years ago when it looked like she was going to be one of those actresses that people relied upon when looking for good acting.

Score: 1/5

Rating: R

Director: David Gelb

Olivia Wilde
Mark Duplass
Donald Glover
Evan Peters
Sarah Bolger
Amy Aquino

Film Length: 83 minutes

Release Date: February 27, 2015

Distributor: Relativity Media