The Lazarus Effect – Review

So, I got to see The Lazarus Effect last night. It’s from the folks over at Blumhouse who brought us The Purge, Insidious, and Paranormal Activity films.

Starring Olivia Wilde, Mark Duplass, Sarah Bolger, Evan Peters, and Donald Glover, The Lazarus Effect is directed by David Gelb. The story? In a lab in a sub-basement (alwats a sub-basement…) of the university, a group of medical researchers’ original research leads them to discovering a way to bring the dead back to life.

Successfully(?) resurrecting a dog before their research is claimed by the big, evil pharmaceutical company that owns their research grant, they decide to recreate the event again in order to claim their discovery.

Got all that?


Predictably, calamity ensues during the experiment, and Zoe (Wilde) is electrocuted. Distraught, Frank (Duplass), her fiancé and the project head, performs the experiment on her, successfully bringing her back after nearly an hour of death.

Like the resurrected dog, Zoe isn’t quite right when she returns, with  telepathy, telekinesis, and even a little dream projection thrown in for good measure.


With all of the standard scary-movie tropes like flickering lighting, people sneaking up behind other people, and jump scares, The Lazarus Effect doesn’t break any new ground here.

What it does do, however well or poorly, is base most of the uncertainty about what is going on as a religion versus science debate.  Since the serum that is supposed to rebuild neural pathways during resurrection doesn’t dissipate from the blood/brain as they theorize, brain scans show an ever increasing rate of brain activity. Does this explain the phenomena? Or is it, as Zoe (a religious person) herself postulates about the dog (and doggie heaven), and echoed later by Eva (Bolger), the fact that the doorway that opens at the moment of death (by the natural neural compound they are ramping up in their experiments, naturally) to allow the soul to pass from living to whatever comes after, is re-opened when they bring something bac k, and never closes because of the persistence of their compound.

Follow that?

So, either way, Zoe is reliving a traumatic event from her childhood (don’t they all have one of those?), and it is making her do wacky stuff.

And killing people.

People get killed.

I won’t spoil the ending, but I will say that I wasn’t a fan of the false ending, and the last shot was basically worthless except as a set-up for a sequel, but a sequel would be a stretch, at best, for this material and how it played out.

Seriously; if there’s a Lazarus 2: The Revenge, they’re not even trying.

Part “cabin in the woods”-type fare, part Exorcist, part Flatliners, The Lazarus Effect was okay, provided you look at it from the perspective of “scientist playing God, when that’s God’s job.”

That’s never a good idea.

Still, The Lazarus Effect is a fun enough movie to watch. I certainly won’t tell you NOT to see it.

So go see it.

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