A team of medical professionals have found a way to bring dead patients back to life using a serum named “Lazarus.” After several successful tests are done on animals, Zoe (Olivia Wilde), one of the lead researchers, dies in a lab accident and the team uses “Lazarus” to bring her back successfully. When she begins to display unusual abilities, the team realizes that their attempt to resurrect the dead may have opened the door to something evil.
Lazarus is a biblical reference referring to a sick man that Jesus brought back from the dead. It’s good background to have because this is a movie that dabbles both in “science vs. religion” and the idea that “man musn’t play God.” It’s not meant to be weighty because it’s just a silly horror movie but you can’t help but to still roll your eyes every time it comes up here.
Frank (Mark Duplass), his fiancee Zoe (Olivia Wilde) and their team of medical researchers are being interviewed by a student documentarian, Eva (Sarah Bolger) after they have found a way to revive the dead using a serum named “Lazarus.” Their first successful experiment was on a lifeless dog whom they brought back to life with strange results. Their experimentation is shut down when a pharmaceutical company learns of their plans and buys out their sponsor in order to get them shut down. The team head back into the lab for one more experiment to act as proof of the work they’ve created when Zoe is killed, leading Frank–out of guilt–to test the process on her. Zoe is revived but the experiment causes a chemical imbalance in her brain that turns her into a personification of hell, bringing wrath onto her teammates.
It’s reminiscent of both last year’s “Lucy” and the classic anime “Akira,” only instead of using her newfound powers and engagement with 100% of her brain, Zoe uses it to murder anyone she can. The idea of hell is prevalent and it is the driving force behind the horror that overcomes her after resurrection. It’s not very interesting or original or even very scary, it’s just kind of there.
This is a blink and you’ll miss it movie. It gets straight to the point and does away with any sort of baggage that may drags things down. It moves at a rapid pace and on one level, it’s very much appreciated but, on another level, it sacrifices any sort of character depth or real stakes.
The characters are shoddily drawn out. People are murdered but you don’t care because they’re not real people. Maybe this would be okay in a campy, kitschy horror movie but there isn’t enough humor here to make you believe that’s what the filmmakers are going for here. But it’s good for a couple of cheap thrills and the ending is cheeky for a movie that seemed mostly devoid of that sort of thing when it should’ve been full of it. It’s just a hollow duplicate instead of being a real living thing.
The Lazurus Effect opens today in theaters everywhere.