Take a Drink: for each horror cliche
Take a Drink: whenever Rocky the dog does anything creepy
Do a Shot: for each jump scare
Take a Drink: whenever a character makes a classic horror movie mistake
Do a Shot: for Childish Gambino being in the movie
By: Matt Conway (Four Beers) –
As a big film fan, I try to watch a fair share of all different film genres, but obviously everyone has their preferences. The one genre I watch less of than most is horror films. The horror genre is a genre that has seemingly turned sour after its great origins, with most horror films today settling for jump scares. While there are plenty of classic horror films out there still, a majority of horror films that come out today are as generic as they get. This was especially the case with last year, as Annabelle, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, and worst of all Ouija being complete crap.
One of the few horror releases though that actually interested me was The Lazarus Effect. Most horror movies have a very routine concept, which is largely an excuse to get to the scary moments. The Lazarus Effect, however, featured an interesting concept, and added that with a talented and fairly unique cast for a horror film. While better than most horror films, sadly The Lazarus Effect is a routine horror film that fails to stand out.
The Lazarus Effect follows a group of medical students testing a serum that brings formerly living specimens back to life. When one test goes awry, killing young group member Zoe, the group does their first test on a human being, which brings her back in a way they could have never predicted.
As I mentioned above, the cast for this film is truly a unique one for a horror film, featuring a lot of truly talented, underrated actors. Leading the way is Olivia Wilde as Zoe, who gives a solid effort in a fairly unique role for her. In the first half of the film, Wilde is her usual likable self, but once she comes back from the dead, she is suddenly menacing and distant. Wilde is clearly having fun playing against type, and is quite convincing in the role as well.
Also playing against type is Mark Duplass as Frank, who truly is one of my favorite people in Hollywood today. Here, he brings his usual low-key charm, but has his moments where he gets to show his more dramatic side. His conviction makes his decision to bring back Zoe actually made sense, as his love for his wife was overriding the ethics of what they were achieving. Both Evan Peters and Donald Glover round out the cast, and are also solid additions, as they give the film a spark with their performances.
From a production standpoint, The Lazarus Effect uses its modest budget to its advantage. The film mostly takes place in the small cellar labs of this complex, which is a relatively compact area. However, the film uses this to create a real sense of claustrophobia in the final third of the movie, as shit really hits the fan. All of the visual effects are quite convincing as well, and cinematographer Michael Fimognari has a few nifty shots.
Looking from the film from an entertainment standpoint, the film is never boring. The Lazarus Effect runs at only 83 minutes long, and is able to stay engaging throughout its whole running time. Still, the good qualities of the film are put to waste by the film’s negative aspects.
While the film is entertaining throughout its running time, the film feels incredibly rushed. At 83 minutes long, the film has its mind set on its finish from the start, running like a sprinter through most of the film’s plot points. The film is not long enough to do anything other than give dull scares. This rushed feeling is what holds back the film in more aspects than one.
This rushed feeling is most evident with the film’s finale. After a big climactic showdown, the film just kind of ends, with a mere two scenes following it attempting to give the film a conclusion. The end is also clearly sequel-bait in the worst way, leaving the audiences with a shameful attempt at a sequel. It’s clear that the writers did not put much thought into actually giving the film a solid conclusion.
Like most horror films in general, the script is weak. Written by Luke Dawson and Jeremy Slater, the two are able to establish a cool concept, but do little of interest with it. The Lazarus Effect instead goes nowhere with its concept, with the film’s story just becoming very generic after flirting with some interesting ideas. The film is incredibly predictable, with anyone who has seen a horror film being able to predict each plot point before it happens.
The script also fails at establishing any characters of interest. The cast certainly gives it their all, but they are written as just such cliched people. Like in most horror films, each character has their one or two traits to distinguish them from the others, but don’t feel like well-rounded people. This is even more of a shame considering how talented this cast truly is.
It’s truly a shame, as the film really had some potential to establish itself as better than the average horror film. It’s evident that the cast here is quite good, and could have established some depth around these characters. This is especially the case with Zoe and Frank, whose relationship could have been the emotional core of the film, but is only shown on a very basic level. The Lazarus Effect is just pure laziness, giving audiences the basic horror mix with not much else.
The Lazarus Effect‘s cardinal sin, however, is it’s just not scary at all. Director David Gleb really drops the ball in this department, giving audiences just the most basic jump scares with no creativity. These moments aren’t even executed that well, with the routine score not even being in tune with the scares themselves. It’s even worse considering the film’s PG-13 rating, which holds the movie back from even showing most of the characters’ deaths onscreen.
Despite a talented cast and an interesting concept, The Lazarus Effect is the latest horror movie misfire, featuring a generic storyline, poorly written characters, and absolutely no scares. A big disappointment considering all of the talent involved.