The Lazarus Effect
Dir: David Gelb
Cast: Olivia Wilde, Mark Duplass, Evan Peters, Sarah Bolger
Director David Gelb stormed into the scene in 2012 with a stunningly beautiful documentary about the single greatest sushi chef in the world. That movie, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, went on to make scores of people from all over the world head towards Japan only to meet the protagonist of the film. All eyes were on Gelb, because he had made something completely original and thought provoking, not to mention delicious. Fast-forward three years, and he’s tried his hand at mainstream horror, and the results are not so great.
Olivia Wilde’s eye make-up isn’t the best way to frighten someone, and the jump scares are as lame and clichéd as they come
Not only is The Lazarus Effect a highly unoriginal movie, it is also already a candidate for the worst movie of the year. There’s nothing wrong with the film on paper – it seems like an interesting modern take on the themes of resurrection and the Frankenstein effect. The film stars Mark Duplass, Olivia Wilde and Donald Glover as a bunch of medical researchers who develop a serum that brings back the dead. After successfully testing it out on mice, and a freak accident that kills Wilde’s character, the team decides to use the serum on her. After waking up, she seems to be back to normal, but anyone who has seen
any single horror movie before will figure out what happens next. She slowly exhibits darker behavior, and people start to die.
The biggest problem is the sheer derivative nature of this film — it borrows its concept from dozens of prior (and better) horror films. A few of the scenes flat out seem like ripoffs of Flatliners, the Julia Roberts and Kevin Bacon movie that dealt with resurrection. The concept of coming back to life in the form of an evil entity has really been done to death and the film makes no attempt to separate itself with anything fresh. The film was made on a shoestring budget, and it’s clear that the producers were trying to emulate the formula of Insidious. But sadly, Gelb does not possess the craft that James Wan does.
The acting, despite the talented cast, is borderline B-movie level and the lines the characters mouth are even more terrible. What’s worse is that nothing in the film is scary — Wilde’s eye make-up isn’t the best way to frighten someone, and the jump scares are as lame and clichéd as they come. It all leads up to a predictable ending full of groan-worthy loud and noisy events, and by the time it’s over all you can do is head over to the nearest sushi restaurant to forget whatever you just saw.