I did it again – I broke my “No new horror movies!” rule. I thought a Frankenstein-esque mad scientist film about bringing the dead back to life in a secret lab, a film that has Ray Wise (aka Leland Palmer) and Donald Glover (aka Childish Gambino) in the credits, could do no wrong. For about 40 out of its 83 minutes I was right. It was fantastic. But then my fear set in. Not the good kind of fear that you want from a horror film, but the fear of a bad ending. I leaned over to my boyfriend halfway through and whispered, “This is awesome! The ending’s going to suck, isn’t it? Because it’s 2015?” And he whispered back, “Definitely. Sorry.”
I hate when he’s right.
Frank and Zoe (Mark Duplass and Olivia Wilde) are medical researchers who have spent years developing a serum intended to assist in the recovery of coma patients, but the progression of their experiments has led them to a startling discovery: their serum not only revives comatose subjects – it also revives dead subjects. Well, only one so far.
When a lab experiment goes tragically awry, one of the team members suddenly and unexpectedly ends up the latest test subject of the group’s miracle serum. It’s an emotional and tense scene, the suspense amplified by the fact that the group only had a few minutes to complete their originally intended experiment before disaster struck. Now they have to try it (and hope it works) on a human being, with their time in the lab still running out.
Typically in horror film, when something (or someone) returns from the the land of the dead to the land of the living, they never come back quite the same as they were before. As expected this is exactly the case in The Lazarus Effect, only the changes are subtle and unable to pinpoint immediately, but this subtlety adds to the overall suspense. If someone comes back as a zombie, you know right away it isn’t them. But when someone comes back essentially the same, with changes small enough to almost be able to shrug off, it can be too late when the realization hits that they are no longer the same person you lost.
Sadly, also in typical horror film fashion of late, the final act felt rushed and the plot and characters seemed to stray in too many directions to come full circle at the end. I wasn’t completely satisfied plot-wise, but the experience of watching it, especially in a theatre, was fun. With a cast that can actually act, a story that didn’t revolve around teenage sex in the woods and jump scares that actually scared, I found it refreshing. That being said, I suggest that instead of spending your cash on a movie ticket for this one, rent the digital copy and watch it at home and spend the extra on a Childish Gambino album.