‘The Lazarus Effect’ is a pulse pounding, heart stopper

By Jacob Pierce, @JacobPierce1_DE

Everyone has a film genre they gravitate toward. When commercials come on for these flicks, you decide you are going to see it, regardless of quality.

I confess, horror movies fill that role in my life. Quality tends to only matter if the movie is boring, because even the worst ones are enjoyable because of their ridiculousness.

“The Lazarus Effect” (Rated PG-13; 86 min) is directed by David Gelb and is a nice little horror movie riddled with a great cast.  


{{tncms-asset app=”editorial” id=”3885fb92-c2b0-11e4-aca3-9308011d81aa”}}

It has taken scientists Frank and Zoe, played by Mark Duplass and Olivia Wilde, four years to create the Lazarus serum, which in theory revives the dead, giving doctors and surgeons more time to work on patients. Their team, played by Evan Peters, Donald Glover and Sarah Bogler, are on the verge of completing the experiment when their bosses shut them down.

The group sees their work slipping away and realize it is now or never. They test it and catastrophe strikes when Zoe is electrocuted and killed. Frank cannot handle this and makes Zoe the first human test subject. She comes back as a super powered psychopath.

Mainstream horror is not in a good position, as movies with garden variety found footage are hitting theaters worldwide and generic possession series like The Paranormal Activity will just not die. But, indie films like “The Babadook” and “The House of the Devil” prove horror is not dead, it has just gone underground.

Much like “As Above, So Below” from last year, “The Lazarus Effect” initially seemed like a waste of time, but turned out to be a wonderful surprise. Both movies suffer from similar horror film faults, but still redeem themselves. This film was saved by its cast and the execution of its concept.

A little bit “Frankenstein” and a little bit “The Shining,” the film takes an age-old concept and uses it wisely.

Religion, its place within science and the ramifications of bringing back the dead are themes brought up intelligently through plot dialogue. Lesser movies attempt to discuss these topics, but end up sounding stupid. “The Lazarus Effect” is a thoughtful but simple movie.


Another positive aspect is that the movie has a more talented and well-known cast than most mainstream horror movies. It avoids the common pitfall in the horror genre of casting a bunch of no name actors to save money.

To complement one actor and not the rest would be blasphemy. No one here, save maybe Wilde, are huge stars.

Glover, who “Community” and Childish Gambino fans will recognize, has a hidden love for Zoe. Duplass, who is also seen in “The League,” has a severe Dr. Frankenstein complex. Peters, new to stardom, plays the goof with a secret intelligence. They elevate the film and inhabit these roles, which is uncommon for a “lowly” horror film.

As great as the execution of this film is, the entire plot occurs in one day: Zoe is brought back from the dead, hits new points of evolution and goes on a rampage. A slower pace would have given the film time to increase its suspense and character development.

“The Lazarus Effect” is not going to change the horror industry. The genre will continue on its path until a savior film like “Scream” saves it. In the meantime, this movie is a nice piece of entertainment. 

Stars: 3.5 out of 5.