The Lazarus Effect Blu-ray review
Medical research has come a long way. One of the latest breakthroughs comes from a small group working on a grant. Its leader, in particular, has “bonded fast-growth B-cell tumors, which sped up the nerve fiber regrowth,” creating a Lazarus serum. The serum, when activated and flowing into the brain, is meant to give those not far from death more time and fewer negative effects when they wake.
Even before the movie gets to the ten-minute mark, after leader Zoe McConnell (Olivia Wilde, BETTER LIVING THROUGH CHEMISTRY) has a nightmare in which a set of hands crawl under the doorframe, it’s clear to the viewer that the breakthrough won’t exactly earn the team a Nobel Prize. Their test subject is dead dog, which comes back to life, but isn’t quite up for a game of fetch. Instead, it has no cataracts and lacks memory.
Still, the group, which consists of Zoe’s fiancé Frank Walton (Mark Duplass, THE ONE I LOVE) and three assistants (played by Sarah Bolger, who plays Princess Aurora in ABC’s ONCE UPON A TIME, Donald Glover, who will next appear in Ridley Scott’s THE MARTIAN, and Evan Peters, who plays/will play Quicksilver in X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST and the upcoming X-MEN: APOCALYPSE), celebrates—until the operation is shut down and Zoe winds up in an electrocution accident that, yes, leaves her dead. Sure enough, it’s decided by Frank to resurrect her, and, well, you know how that goes.
THE LAZARUS EFFECT has a premise that is reminiscent of Frankenstein, but is only about as scary as the little girl the Monster hurls into the lake. There is no commentary on the effects of such risky experimentations or just what it means to “play God” in the lab. Instead, all of the eerie moments come from cheap methods (as when the movie warms the viewer up by having Glover pop into the frame wearing a mask) or senseless occurrences (as when Zoe develops the ability to read others’ minds—why? Because the filmmakers probably caught CARRIE on Encore one night).
THE LAZARUS EFFECT is directed by David Gelb (who helmed the wonderful 2011 documentary JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI) and comes “from the producer of THE PURGE, PARANORMAL ACTIVITY and INSIDIOUS,” which should tell the audience just what sort of brain power went into this movie. (It might also be useful to note that Jason Blum also produced the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY and INSIDIOUS sequels.)
With a more tuned script (Luke Dawson also wrote 2008’s SHUTTER; Jeremy Slater co-wrote this year’s FANTASTIC FOUR) and some smart ideas that extend past the first act, THE LAZARUS EFFECT could have been an intelligent sci-fi/horror offering, or even a goofy throwback to something along the lines of Stuart Gordon’s RE-ANIMATOR. But with what it has, it is a cliché-ridden, frightless headache that might make some viewers wish they were going through an experimental procedure.
Video: 2.40:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. Details are strong, colors are accurate and black levels benefit the tone.
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. Subtitles in English and Spanish. Dialogue is clear and the score and SFX come through effectively.
Creating the Fear: The Making of THE LAZARUS EFFECT (14:27): This featurette offers a basic overview of the plot and themes.
Playing God: The Moral Dilemma (7:46) touches on the issues associated with bringing dead creatures back from the dead.
Deleted and Extended Scenes (4:25): There are three here, which can be viewed separately or as a whole. They are: “Zoe Brain Scan,” “Clay NVG Search” and “Frank Head Crush.”