Director: David Gelb
Writers: Luke Dawson and Jeremy Slater
Cast: Mark Duplass, Olivia Wilde, Sarah Bolger, Evan Peters, Donald Glover, Ray Wise
Medical researchers Frank (Mark Duplass) and his fiance Zoe (Olivia Wilde) have come up with a serum, dubbed the Lazarus, to help coma patients. Turns out it can reanimate the dead, though! So, they along with their research team bring back a dog from the dead. But, it seems to have some weird, and not very good, reaction on his doggy brain. In the meantime, the university learns of their decidedly unethical little study and shut them down. Frank is determined to proceed, so they break into their closed, to them, lab. But, Zoe gets accidentally electrocuted during an experiment and dies. He decides that they must use the serum on her. She comes back, but now has psychic powers and is evil. She soon dispatches of them one by one.
The overall idea presented here, in particular that of the whole hot zombie chick with scanners like powers, is actually a good one. Still a good chunk of the film is wholly unoriginal. But, even taking that into account, there was potential for it to go somewhere really cool. It is disappointing then that much of The Lazarus Effect is so flatly directed by David Gelb, as he really doesn't know how to make this a scary or suspenseful film. There are a few scenes that hint at greater talent like when the show when Zoe is resurrected for example which is very creepy. But, most of the scenes simply aren't that good, as is the case with an earlier scene involving the zombie dog. In it, he jumps on the bed where Zoe is sleeping but there's nothing so much as even barely scary about this.
It is also hampered by it's rating. There are moments of violence cut short to keep the PG-13 rating. Honestly going a little crazy with the gore would have added to the fun of it. As it is, you get some decent kills, like a Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II inspired scene involving a character getting crushed in a locker. That and other scenes like it could have been so much more, though, had they not cut away.
To it's advantage it's really helped by a great cast. Everyone is really good in their roles. Duplass is fine as the male lead and is supported nicely by everyone else. Olivia Wilde is particularly enjoyable in her part. She is a likable character and is really fun when she turns evil. There is a wonderfully silly but cool, in a tongue in cheek sort of way, scene where she winks after killing someone. It looks like she had fun in her role, and she at least keeps the movie lively. Problem is as the story progresses she ultimately over shadows the other characters, and I kinda cheered her on. It also doesn't help that much of the time, I kept thinking to myself, "Would be OK, if I boned this zombie chick?"
Honestly, I expected a lot worse from The Lazarus Effect. But, while I would never say that this movie is good, I can't say that I fully hate it. It could have been so much better though. Call it a missed opportunity. It just hit Netflix, and well, you could do a lot worse than this one. You could, quite frankly also do better. This Blumhouse flick (the third from the company I have reviewed this year!) is worth a look if you are extremely curious about it, have NOTHING else to watch, and/ or, like me, LOVE Olivia Wilde. Just be sure to keep you expectations really fucking low.
** out of ****