31 Days of Reviews: The Lazarus Effect (2015)

A team of scientists tries to play God, attempting to bring animals back from the dead. How many successes are needed before the human trials start?

I saw this one was available for purchase at the store, but I never jumped on it, not fully knowing what it was about. When I saw it had become available on Netflix streaming, I jumped on the chance to see it.

As the opening credits started rolling, I was pleasantly surprised to see how many people I liked from the cast of characters. Olivia Wilde, Donald Glover, and Evan Peters snagged my attention. The movie also stars Mark Duplass and Sarah Bolger with small roles by Ray Wise and Amy Aquino. Coming from someone who really had no idea what they were getting into, that was a nice bit to start out with.

When I initially read the plot of The Lazarus Effect, I thought it was going to be a found footage film. I was hoping very hard that it wouldn’t be because I feel the novelty of the sub-genre has definitely faded, but I was convinced that it was going to be found footage. The opening sequence being footage from a security camera only solidified that thought. I am happy to reportĀ that it is, in fact, not a found footage film! In the beginning, there are some diary entries and experiment footage mixed in, but overall, it is a movie in the traditional sense of camera work.

With that in mind, I thought that some of the edits were really great. Some of the camera work is incredibly creepy too. These effects do start to wear off due to overuse of certain edits and effects, but I was still satisfied with how the movie was put together.

In terms of scares, this is definitely a jump scare movie. During the first half, these scares are predictable, but still jump scares nonetheless. In this first half, you can almost judge exactly when the scare will happen because they all have this moment of anticipation where you know it’s going to happen, but they wait just a beat longer than you would have expected before delivering the punch. Once we reach the last half of the movie, we start to delve into some more scary imagery, but with the added music and sound effects, I would still deem the images as jump scares.

As for the story, we’ve all learned at this point that bringing anything back from the dead is never a good idea. This movie attempts to explain that in a scientific way before heading into more spiritual and supernatural territory. That’s not to say that the movie covers anything new. It’s still very predictable. I did appreciate where they were trying to go with the ideas of time in death (that one hour of being dead could mean years spent in the afterlife) and what would constitute being bound for hell. The movie starts off with the potential for a really great story line, but it seems like they just didn’t take it far enough, sticking with what is familiar.

Olivia Wilde. She is fantastic in this role. I never would have thought she could come off so scary, but she really nails it. I would probably say she’s the best part of The Lazarus Effect for me, personally.

I’m not surprised to see that the overall consensus of critics on the internet is negative about The Lazarus Effect. It is a pretty average movie, although I do feel that some of the reviews are too harsh. I thought it was fun. It’s nothing new or inventive, as I’ve mentioned before, but it definitely beat my expectations. It was better than I thought it was going to be, by far. I was expecting an extremely low budget, found footage film, with unknown actors, and that’s definitely not what I got. This could be why my review is so favorable, but I enjoyed it.


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