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Review: The Lazarus Effect

The Lazarus Effect seems to be running only on look and sound. An array of attractive and talented television stars are relegated to trying to pass as scientists who spout exposition in a story built by a committee of cliches and conveniences.

This tepid, PG-13, so-called horror film borrows its name from a biblical story where Jesus brings Saint Lazarus to life four days after his death. So things are pretty well telegraphed without seeing the trailer that gives away everything. We’ve scientists playing God (which of course they say), sneaking around after their ambitious goals have been shut down by corporate powers and greedy conglomerates.

Of course, something goes wrong, and Zoe (Olivia Wilde, and yes, she made long ago the leap from TV to film) ends up a casualty of recklessness. Her personal and professional partner Frank (Mark Duplass) then naturally breaks the rules, against the wishes of his underlings Clay (Evan Peters) and Niko (Donald Glover), and weird, chaotic things ensue. There is also a lovely young film student (Sarah Bolger) there to document the proceedings because, well, we need more women in the film.

Scares, however, nuance, or intrigue do not follow. Lazarus borrows from Lucy, Splice, The Thing, and even Paranormal Activity when it opts to show you the security camera footage, while never coming the least bit close to being as interesting or innovative as those films.

Directed by David Gelb and written by Luke Dawson and Jeremy Slater, Lazarus comes from the efficient Blumhouse productions, a group that churns out cost-effective horror films and hits it big every so often.

Not with this one, an absurdly banal 90-minute diversion that is half-hearted more than anything else. Because it’s derivative and familiar with regards to plot, and lazy when it comes to dialogue and ideas, Lazarus may only serve only as an example of a film that actors are required to do in order to do something they really like (they are all really lovable stars, which makes this unfortunate).

At no point is it easy to become part of this world (relegated almost entirely to their shiny lab), and at no point is it worth it to become invested in the characters. To say The Lazarus Effect should have never come to life would be making an easy joke deserving of the film.

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Anthony Marcusa

A pop-culture consumer, Anthony seeks out what is important in entertainment and mocks what is not. Inspired by history, Anthony writes with the hope that someone, somewhere, might be affected.