HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: The Lazarus Effect
HTS Overall Score:83
Playing God has been a standard in the horror and thriller genre for decades. That age old “Frankenstein” dilemma. It’s especially true in the medical field. How far do we go to try and save a patient? What consequences do our actions have when we delve into things we don’t know enough about? Now I’m not saying that we shouldn’t push the envelope, or that going into uncharted territories is bad, but those ethical questions should always be on our mind and that the issue of “life” is much more complicated than just a few neural impulses. This idea has been explored in these horror movies time and time again, as we realize just how little we really know about the human body, even considering how much we know right now.
I saw the trailers for “The Lazarus Effect” and was instantly intrigued. I love Olivia Wilde (those blues eyes of hers can cut right through you) and from the creators of “Insidius”, and “The Purge” was just icing on the cake. However the reviews that came out were just SCATHING as every critic seemed to despise it, tempering my expectations quite a bit. After watching it for myself, I can see some of the criticisms, but at the end of the day I really rather enjoyed it. It’s got a great concept, albeit with some application issues, and above all, it’s stinking creepy.
Frank (Mark Duplass) and Zoe (Olivia Wilde) are two research scientists trying to formulate a serum that will reanimate dying tissue as a short term crutch so that doctors can develop a cure, or have enough time to operate properly. They call this their “Lazarus” serum. Injecting it into a dog with the help of their assistants Niko (Donald Glover), Clay (Evan Peters), and camera girl Eva (Sarah Berger), they actually succeed in bringing the dog back to life (with some aggressive temperament issues). Due to actually breaching their grant contract by the dog experiment, all of their data and research is confiscated by their benefactors, leaving them with nothing. Realizing that they have only a short time before the lab is cleared out, Frank and Zoe come back to recreate the experiment once more and document it. That way they will have proof that their experiment worked. As with most horror movies, something goes horribly wrong and Zoe ends up dead. Overcome with grief, Frank injects Zoe with the serum and brings her back from the dead.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=47642[/img]I’m really not spoiling anything saying that Zoe comes back, as this is all shown in the trailer. Just like the dog, Zoe starts to show some different behavioral traits and soon things start getting “weird”. People start dying and Zoe starts showing some insane powers. Anymore and I DO start to give away the ending though. However, I can say that the very ending is really where I can see the most criticisms coming from. Up until the last 1-2 minutes of the film I was VERY pleased with the way it was turning out. It wasn’t a picture perfect wrap up to the film, but I was enjoying the dark semi science, semi faith based direction of the movie, but the last 1-2 minutes with the big “reveal” felt as if it was trying to pull the rug out from underneath all the progress that had been made. I understand most horror movies like to leave on a somber or scary note, but in this case it just didn’t fit as well, and actually seemed a bit TOO ludicrous. Especially with Zoe’s “apology” at the very end (you’ll know it when you see it).
The first act of the film is really the weakest act, as they spend a god 35-40 minutes setting up the rest of the movie. We see their motivations, the discussion about life after death etc. The second act is really just a taste of what’s to come as Zoe is inspected and the crew starts to realize that something isn’t right. The last 25 minutes are where all the goodies come from. The bodies start piling up and the jump scares are a dime a dozen. The majority of the basic scares are your common jump scares, but they are used surprisingly effectively in the film, and had me jolting out of my seat more than once. Not to mention the fact that the theory of a soul coming back from HELL, rather than HEAVEN was a novel concept that really worked for the movie. Zoe went from crazy to creepy, to just pure evil in just a few minutes and it made my skin crawl. Still, jump scares are also a negative, being that we’ve seen them all done a million times. So it’s kind of a mixed blessing in the movie.
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of horror violence, terror and some sexual references
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=47650[/img]“The Lazarus Effect’s” 1080p Blu-ray presentation is certainly top notch. Filmed digitally, the movie looks nearly impeccable from start to finish. Most of the time the movie is located at the bottom of a dark lab underground, so the black levels are rather tantamount to the image’s success, and they don’t disappoint in the slightest. Deep and inky they allow for exceptional detail, whether that be in a dimly lit scene, or a sequence bathed in near total darkness. I don’t think I noticed more than a flickering of black crush during the entire 83 minutes and I really looked for it. Contrast is well balanced, and skin tones look as natural as they can in dim lighting. Colors are graded ever so slightly blue, and the limited primary colors that are there looking exceedingly good.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=47658[/img]One thing that really helps a horror movie excel is the use of a strong audio track, and “The Lazarus Effect” is more than perfectly suited for that genre. Deep and visceral, it attacks you from the get go with powerfully impactful LFE that rips into every scene. Whether it’s the joke jump scares at the beginning to the throbbing score, the LFE track is in near constant use with REALLY heavy waves of bass that feel like they want to pin you to your seat. The dialog is crisp, clear and locked up front like you would hope for, and while the LFE is intense and strong it still doesn’t drown out said vocals. The ambient creep noises of the film are exquisitely replicated in the surround channels, adding to the creep factor as you can hear something crash in the background, or the whisper of a foot sliding across the floor behind you. Easily the best part of the entire film, the audio alone had me grinning from ear to ear.
• Deleted and Extended Scenes
• Creating Fear: The Making of "The Lazarus Effect"
• Playing God: The Moral Dilemma
• Theatrical Trailer
While I understand some of the criticisms being levied against “The Lazarus Effect” I honestly rather enjoyed it. It did something that most horror movies can’t even begin to do to this jaded old horror fan. I was actually creeped out. The flaws are there, and the last few minutes of the movie ALMOST spoiled the movie for me, but I think I can live with it. There's a few too many unanswered questions, especially with regards to just WHAT the serum actually does (besides raise from the dead), leaving it open to a bit too much imagination, but the creep factor was definitely a plusCouple that with the fact that the audio and video are INCREDIBLE, lends this one to being a solid rental if you’re a horror fan.
Starring: Mark Duplass, Olivia Wilde, Sarah Bolger, Evan Peters
Directed by: David Gelb
Written by: Luke Dawson, Jeremy Slater
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Runtime: 83 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: June 16th 2015
Buy The Lazarus Effect On Blu-ray at Amazon
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