Friday, February 27, 2015
Lazy Horror Film THE LAZARUS EFFECT Will Hopefully Mark the End of the Whole "Playing God" Trope
I hate to say I told you so, but...THE LAZARUS EFFECT is exactly what I feared it would be--from its quasi-serious/bogus dialogue to the played out notion that we mere mortals can bring back loved ones from the dead and they'll be exactly the way they were before they died (seriously, when will we learn that that doesn't work?). But I'm pretty sure right now someone somewhere is feverishly typing up a compelling think piece about playing god and the question of life after death, but all the intelligent discussions in the world won't mask the real problem here: this is just a bad movie.
And you know what's the most frustrating part about that? It never really even tries. From its opening moments featuring a team of scientists (Olivia Wilde, Mark Duplass, Evan Peters, Donald Glover) on the cusp of an experiment that "will help healthcare professionals everywhere," THE LAZARUS EFFECT merely coasts by on a very thin script that is really just a placeholder to get to what is obviously its larger purpose: to frighten the audience so much that we forget that we're watching a bad movie. But, guys, I never forgot (and also, it wasn't that scary).
First of all, that mumble jumble at the beginning of the film, vaguely describing what the scientists are studying and why, will likely whirl right past most audiences because 1) it doesn't make much sense and 2) the actors are so casual about this dialogue that you don't really take anything they're saying seriously. On the one hand you've got scientists and love interests Zoe and Frank (Wilde and Duplass) laughing so hard on camera, barely able to get the words out about their study. (You see, they are being videotaped at the time and apparently are a bit awkward on camera). And on the other hand, you've got fellow scientist Clay (Peters) smoking in the lab, dancing to old records and trying to flee from a rabid dog they brought back to life (which should be their first clue that whatever experiments they're working on are not going as planned). Like, these are real scientists who think they're about to unleash some genius onto the world. Meanwhile, their resident camerawoman (Sarah Bolger) is apparently more video-inclined, yet is able to somehow put together a lethal dosage in a syringe later in the film. *eyeroll*
So anyway, as indicated in the trailer, s**t hits the fan in the lab and Zoe ends up dead. Distraught, Frank brings Zoe back from the dead and--surprise!--she comes back in full Pet Sematary form, the very embodiment of evil (complete with levitation, telepathy and homicidal rage). To make matters even more ridiculous, there's a whole new layer clumsily tacked on to the third act of the film that makes no sense at all, and gets so far away from the story's original point that you don't even know what you're watching anymore. If it isn't for the few jumps and unintentional laughs, the entire last 30 minutes would be a complete and utter waste of time.
What's most surprising is that this film is directed by David Gelb, the same guy who did the critically-acclaimed Jiro Dreams of Sushi, and co-written by Luke Dawson who penned the decent American horror remake, Shutter. So what happened here??
Needless to say, I'm not a fan of THE LAZARUS EFFECT. And the more I think of it, the less remarkable it gets. So I'm just going to stop here.
Rating: D+ (** out of *****)
THE LAZARUS EFFECT is now playing.