The Lazarus Effect

STORY: A group of young scientists create a serum that allows them to resurrect the dead. Making a strong case for why the deceased should remain that way, one of them is transformed into something terrible when the serum is used to revive her.

REVIEW: While this movie dutifully touches upon most horror checkpoints (jump scares etc.), it is probably the only horror flick that introduces something new -mention of something called DMT (referred to as ‘the Spirit Molecule’) in the brain, which according to Frank (Duplass), Zoe (Wilde), Clay (Peters) and Niko (Glover) is of key importance to their experiment. This, coupled with Zoe’s concerns about the moralistic angle of reviving the dead, makes for an interesting build-up. When they resurrect a dog, Zoe asks her fiance Frank, “If we bring a dog back from the dead, are we ripping him out of doggie heaven?”

Their university dean soon pulls the plug on the experiment but they decide to continue with the work, regardless. A lab accident kills Zoe, whom Frank revives with the serum. So, strange chemicals, ethical issues and a sense of ‘what happens next?’ Just when you think things are going to get really interesting, Lazarus gets sloppy in a hurry.

Zoe’s back with superpowers that aren’t really explained. Is she demonically possessed? Has she been to another dimension or realm? Is it some crazy alter-ego?These angles of exploration would have given the film tremendous psychological leverage and impact. But astoundingly, that is avoided. Instead, the sense of foreboding created by the meticulous build-up is dissipated. Zoe is clearly very tormented by something and now wants her friends to share her nightmare.

To be fair, the sense of claustrophobia remains (also, a few scares that will spill your popcorn) and the cast do their salvageable best, but the script gives them precious little to play around with. Apart from the film’s clear message – that if you play God, bad things will happen -Wilde definitely does look scary and indeed, she is the best thing about the movie.

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