The Lazarus Effect (Lionsgate, PG-13)

lazarus 75The Lazarus Effect starts strong and ends strong, but dramatically loses momentum in the middle.

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When it comes to thrillers, I am both a fan and a skeptic. I love them because of the adrenaline rush, but I think they’re generally very difficult to get right. I mention this because from a genre perspective I’d say The Lazarus Effect gets it right, but as a film in general it’s just okay.

The Lazarus Effect starts strong and ends strong, but dramatically loses momentum in the middle. The story is compelling—a group of researchers create a serum that can resurrect the dead, but before they are able to study the full effects they have to use the serum on a member of the group. I like this premise and the setup is great—but once Zoe (Olivia Wilde) comes back to life as a demonic version of herself with some supernatural powers, things get a little iffy. There is a lull in the middle of the film where Zoe essentially hunts down and attacks her friends because the B story (where the writers explain where this dark part of Zoe came from) is lost.

The actors were good, but none of them particularly stood out. They all portrayed characters they’ve played before in other movies/TV shows, and none of the characters were particularly deep or complex.

This movie constantly reminded me of Lucy. There were too many similarities to my liking as both are about a woman who, by way of an accident, can access more of her brain and it makes some crazy things happen. These films have different stories and genres, but both investigate the result of humans being able to access 100% of their brains (as opposed to the supposed usual 10%) at all times. Granted, The Lazarus Effect is leaps and bounds better than Lucy. The science behind the neuron stimulation in the brain is more thorough, and the story makes a lot more sense.

The Lazarus Effect is not exactly predictable, but it is formulaic. It contains all the genre conventions of a thriller and gives you everything you would expect from viewing the trailer or reading the description. You know that a character is going to die, but you do not know when or how. There is an excellent balance of setup and payoff, and while sections of the film are set up for you, you don’t know what is going to happen next in each scene. It’s paced very well.

While I can’t say I was completely scared during this film, the anticipation was definitely there. I feel that a lot was held back to achieve the PG-13 rating, but I did flinch a few times and felt satisfied when it ended.

My biggest frustration with this film—and this is the best way I can put it without spoiling something—is that it fulfills the stereotypes of what happens to characters in scary movies based on their race, age, and attractiveness.

Overall, I enjoyed The Lazarus Effect. Is it a great movie? No, but it’s good, and worth seeing. It’s a solid thriller with a better story than most, and it even explores both science and religion a bit. If you’re not a fan of The Purge or Paranormal Activity but you like to challenge ideas and processes, I would give this a try. I think it will reach more than the scary movie fans. | Samantha LaBat

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