The concept of playing God and bringing the dead back to life is an old trope that dates back to the great sci-fi/horror works of yore like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and it’s a simple conceit that works when its done right. However, in the case of The Lazarus Effect, that idea gets awash in a sea of bland mediocrity and zero innovation, and suffers from the classic age-old problem of having a great setup and a failed result. It completely squanders any potential it had going for it, and makes way for a movie that feels longer than its 83-minute running time that would easily put its audience to sleep despite the loud bangs that are seeded throughout.
As far as the horror aspect goes, the film recycles a lot of tropes that have been done so much better in other works and goes for the tired “quiet, quiet, quiet, bang!” syndrome that has been worked to death in recent horror films like Sinister and The Conjuring. When, at certain points during the film, some characters sneak up behind someone and shout “Boo!”, you know things aren’t going well. It’s also horrendously paced, as the film drags things out and becomes too much of a slow burner, and could’ve benefited from being faster paced, plus the soundtrack is abominable.
The film also does the unspeakable crime of wasting a completely talented cast and giving them bland one-dimensional characters that you neither care nor root for; Olivia Wilde, who has proven to be solid actress when given great works like Drinking Buddies and TV’s House, struggles to breathe life to proceedings and clearly deserves so much better than what’s given to her. Others like Mark Duplass, Sarah Bolger, Donald Glover and Evan Peters are also left to flounder around thanks to a lifeless and witless script that doesn’t give them much range or proper characterisation.
Whilst The Lazarus Effect boasts a talented cast and has a great setup that shows a lot of promise, yet the film completely wastes it all on bland characters, dull pacing, tedious exposition and tirelessly recycled plot devices. This could’ve been so much more than what it actually is, and that is a real shame.
THE LAZARUS EFFECT / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: DAVID GELB / SCREENPLAY: LUKE DAWSON, JEREMY SLATER / STARRING: OLIVIA WILDE, MARK DUPLASS, EVAN PETERS / RELEASE DATE: OCTOBER 19TH