Saturday, July 4, 2015

Film Review: The Lazarus Effect (2015)

Copyright: Relativity Media
Like the recent horrors which were both low budget (Spring) and really AAA level (Poltergeist) this film is also significantly uneven. From the basic story of a lab team that developed a cure for death, The Lazarus Effect quickly slips into a thriller of demonic possession and personal hellscapes. The speed of this transition is not only narrative, but also quite literal, because the entire film lasts well under 90 minutes.

The cast of the film, mainly Olivia Wilde as the lead actress, glides through the action smoothly. With a couple of short stops on the regular horror path of “everything is just fine” to “we’re losing our budget” and “the short-sighted administrators put a stop to our brilliant research”, to the final “OMG we killed our colleague”, the film presents the expected milestones.

Then, the reign of terror commences and fills the really small space of the laboratory (the film practically stays in 100 square meters of lab rooms). Here, Wilde brings most of the frights (the strongest suit of the plot), but this is still no enough to help director David Gelb in making anything more than a modern TV version of Flatliners.

On the other hand, like the film Devil from 2010, The Lazarus Effect does pretty well for a film where special effects and locations did not cost the production very much. Instead, Gleb used the actors and a fast tempo of the plot to make an average, but enjoyable horror on a 3 million dollar budget. Not counting the recent and brilliant It Follows, which also had a miniature budget, this is really low for a film with famous Hollywood actors.

While it is not great by any account, it is too short to really be bad, which is a solid result for a not very ambitious horror and also a production lesson for anyone looking to make financially successful films (The Lazarus Effect made 10 million during its opening weekend).