Get ready for a new twist on a tried and true theme in the horror genre. The Lazarus Effect will take you on a journey into the research laboratory of a group of scientists that are playing God in an effort to extend the life of coma patients. With a runtime of less than an hour and a half, this film will keep you on the edge of your seat. Despite using all the tropes of the horror genre, this movie will still have your blood racing within the first few minutes of the film’s opening title sequence.
The Lazarus Effect is about a group of medical scientists lead by the brilliant minds of Frank (Mark Duplass) and Zoe (Olivia Wilde) who are amidst testing a serum that they hope will bring the dead back to life. After discovering that the serum was effective in reviving a dead dog, the university sponsoring the research ends the operation. Following a bizarre turn of events, the group of scientists are robbed of their massive accomplishment. Returning to the lab to re-create the experiment, Zoe is killed during the procedure. Against the recommendation of his colleagues, Frank uses the serum to revive her. Hoping that she has returned to the world of the living unscathed, the group is shocked to find that something is evil within her and have to escape the lab before their very lives are in danger.
While many critics and fans have given The Lazarus Effect poor reviews, I think that it’s important to remember that the horror film is a special genre that is not encumbered by the same requirements that other genres are. One unique attribute of the horror film is that it often employs social commentary. In this case, it is the idea that situations will go horribly wrong when man tries to play God. For this message to get across, it isn’t necessary to include well-executed character development, carefully crafted subtext, or emotional internal goals. The horror film needs to communicate its story visually and viscerally. I find The Lazarus Effect does a good job at holding true to the genre and still manages to throw a curve ball here and there to keep the audience on its toes.
Olivia Wilde completely sells her character in the movie. Just looking at her will creep you out, and she successfully transcends the silver screen to spark fear in the minds and bodies of the audience. The movie is very well cast and each of the respective characters plays their roles very well. Often times, a small cast can become monotonous to watch; but, this petite ensemble will successfully carry the narrative from start to finish. Regrading the screenplay, the writing was also well-done, for the genre; and actually made the science behind the plot make sense within the narrative. It’s important for science-fiction horror to create science that makes sense within the world of fantasy. So often, sci-fi and sci-fi horror forget that the logic behind the narrative has to remain coherent and testable throughout the story.
If you enjoy horror films, definitely check out The Lazarus Effect. It will take you on a terrifying journey that is non-stop from beginning to end.