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The Lazarus Effect: in review

Here is it, mid March and I haven’t been to the movies since, best guess, November. So, as a movie, especially horror movie, connoisseur (fancy way of saying junkie), I was feeling a bit peckish (the itch) to hit my local theater up for whatever horror movie was currently available. I had hoped to check the supposedly released It Follows. But much to my dismay, apparently Houston selected not to partake in the limited release. So what else was there? What else could I sink my teeth into and wet my appetites? Well, as the title of this post suggests, The Lazarus Effect so happened to be still in theaters with a respectable selection of screening times. I had seen the preview for this before. The Lazarus Effect, via preview alone, reminded me of a juiced up Flatliners…but with demons. So, with no other horror title to select from, I purchased my ticket for a Friday the 13th 9:55pm showing…and this is what I got:

Obviously, The Lazarus Effect failed to capture the imagination of critics. But then again, when are critics ever right in regards to horror movies? Remember a certain film called The Thing? Back in 82, critics hated the damn film, but look at it now! The Thing has a huge cult following and is heralded as one of the greatest films ever made. Okay. So now that I’ve snuck in a The Thing mention, lets get back to the topic at hand. The Lazarus Effect in all its non critical acclaim had both its ups and downs. The unfortunate downs however occurred where it mattered the most. Lets take this play for play. The following review will be as SPOILER FREE as possible.

Synopsis:

THE LAZARUS EFFECT follows a group of researchers led by Frank and his fiancé Zoe who’ve achieved the unimagithelazaruseffectmovieposternable – bringing the dead back to life. After a successful, yet unsanctioned, trial on a newly deceased animal, the team is ready to unveil their breakthrough to the world. When the dean of their university learns of their underground experiments, their project is unexpectedly shut down and their materials confiscated. Frank, Zoe and their team take matters into their own hands, launching a rogue attempt to recreate their experiment, during which things go terribly wrong and one of their own, Zoe, is horrifically killed. Fueled by terror and grief, Frank pushes them to do the unthinkable: attempt to resurrect their first human test subject. Initially, the procedure appears a success, but the team soon realizes something is wrong with Zoe. As her strange new persona reveals itself, the team quickly becomes stuck in a gruesome reality. They are no longer faced with the question … Written by Relativity

The Good:

The Lazarus Effect had one of the best build ups I’ve seen in a long time, at least from the current batch of horror movies. The characters felt real and likable, though perhaps a tad bit underdeveloped. The entire cast was, I thought, great! I loved the back and forth with everyone, especially between Frank (Mark Duplass) and Clay (Evan Peters). The concept was also unique while also familiar, think Flatliners with more believable pseud-science. The “scare” scenes were also good, if not cliched, but then again… are not all “scare” scenes in horror a bit cliched these days? The trick is to build from those cliched moments, giving the audience a sense of dread. And despite the “bad” report below, I’d still say to give this movie a go and discover what you will from its good and not so good moments.

The Bad:

With all the build up, the last act felt absolutely fumbled. As if Lazarus Effect were an underdog sport team making extraordinary plays, and on the wave of cheers and enthusiasm from the crowd they become engulfed by their own momentum. With the suspense and build up, I expected something more fluid. The end felt jumbled together, as if the writers or directors weren’t exactly sure where they were going — they didn’t have a clear vision. Had they stuck to one possible outcome rather than mucking things up with several differing possibilities to the Zoe problem, perhaps the “bad” could have been a lot less worse. Instead, when the shit hit the proverbial fan, I ended up finding myself mostly confused with what was going on. The plot no longer made sense to me, nothing was believable. And once the gear becomes unhinged, we’re no longer witnesses of a story, drawn into its creepy world. While the beginning of movies are extremely important, the time-honored handshake as some call it, so to are the endings. The ending are the last word, the last imagine we take away. If you’re on a date and you’ve been James Bond all evening, being the devilish suave bastard you are, and when you walk your date to her door and let loose a foghorn fart, well…chances are you’re not going to be invited inside for a bite of tea and crumpets, if you know what I mean (wink wink).

The Metaphysical:

Despite the very confusing very mucked up ending, I actually gleamed something interesting from the movie. Recently, I sat down and watched the flick Lucy with the stoically talented Scarlett Johansson. The overall story of Lucy is “what happens if humans could use more than 10% of their brain at any one time.” We homo-sapiens do use all of our brains, but only 10% at any one time. What if we could use 100% at the same time? And that’s what both Lucy and The Lazarus Effect address. With The Lazarus Effect, the Lazarus serum, the magic formula that brings dead dogs and dead Zoe’s back to life also opens the subject to more neural activity in the brain. Lucy in this endeavor was more optimistic. She wanted to impart some great understanding of the cosmos before her ultimate ascension. The Lazarus Effect was pessimistic. That with higher access to our neural capacity people would not become saints but demons. We’d become worse, rather than better. In this respect, I was impressed. I mean, come on, we want to be better (some of us at least), we want to improve not just ourselves but also society, but in the end, if we could access 100% of our brains and become super-human, or meta-humans if you will, would we be better? Or would we be worse? While Lucy was a decent flick, it was too naive regarding human nature. But if The Lazarus Effect was more point-to-fact, more spot-on, as they say, what does that say about us and the human condition?

I give The Lazarus Effect 3/5

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