What happens when you get a good cast but a not go good script? The Lazarus Effect is one such example that even good actors who have done a reasonably good job cannot save a film such as this. Directed by David Gelb and written by Luke Dawson and Jeremy Slater, the horror/supernatural film stars Mark Duplass, Olivia Wilde, Donald Glover, Evan Peters, and Sarah Bolger.
Medical researchers Frank & his fiance Zoe are working a serum code-named “Lazarus” to help patients in coma but they discover that the serum can bring back the dead to life. The initial experiments are on dead animals, like a pig shown just before the credits, and later a dog. With the help of their friends Niko & Clay, plus student videographer Eva, they document their first successful attempt when they bring a recently deceased dog to life. The 5 of them celebrate but it is soon evident that the dog is not normal. First, his cataracts are gone and it refuses to eat and seems rather docile and confused but in one creepy scene the dog is shown to stare at a sleeping Zoe in a rather ominous manner. It also seems to be able to easily get out of it’s kennel and growls menacingly to stoner Clay. Tests reveal that the serum, instead of dissipating, is constructing strange new synapses within the dog’s brain.
When the dean of the university finds out about the experiment she reprimands Frank and that a major pharmaceutical corporation has bought out the company that funded their research. The company and their attorneys confiscate everything associated with the project. The 5 sneak back in to the laboratory as the company had missed Eva’s pass, and try to recreate the experiment but a freakish accident electrocutes Zoe and she dies. A grieving Frank uses the serum to resurrect her. Initially, the procedure appears to be a success, but the team soon realizes that something is wrong with Zoe. She claims that when she died, she went to her version of Hell which was a nightmare originating from her childhood; as a child, Zoe’s apartment building had caught on fire and she watched her neighbors burn to death after they were trapped inside, causing recurring nightmares. She also begins to demonstrate unusual psychic abilities. The Lazarus serum causes brains to “evolve” incredibly rapidly, giving Zoe inhuman powers such as telekinesis and telepathy.
Zoe is aware that the others are wary of her and she walks into a room where Nico is and when he wards of her attempts to kiss him, she uses her telekinetic powers to throw him into a locker and crushes it with him inside, killing him. When Clay demands to know where Niko is, she kills him as well by suffocating him with an e-cigarette. Later, Zoe kills Frank after he attempts to kill her with a poison injection. After this, Zoe injects herself with an entire bag of the Lazarus serum, making her abilities stronger than before. Eva is alone with Zoe in the underground lab, in the dark as Zoe cuts off the power. Zoe finds Eva and sends her into the hell that she went to when she died. Inside the nightmare, it is revealed that Zoe was the one that caused the fire in the building, causing her to go to hell upon death. Eva is able to escape and inject Zoe with the syringe, but Zoe survives and kills Eva anyway. She then injects Frank with her own blood loaded with the Lazarus serum and he awakens as the film ends.
This sort of theme of “playing god” and returning from the dead all wrong has been played out so many times that there is a lack of originality in the film. The film also relies on tried & boring jump scares that soon becomes a little annoying. However Wilde’s little evil smile & wink at Clay as she kills him is priceless. Most horror fans would be disappointed. 6 outta 10!