Movie Review: The Lazarus Effect

Jean-Paul’s Rating: 1/5 stars

Bottom Line: Interesting premise, but a very slow setup with absolutely no payout.  Completely lacking in atmosphere and emotion.  Never establishes what kind of movie it wants to be.

Nostalgia is starting to lead me into making poor life decisions.  I went to see “The Lazarus Effect” because of its similarity to the 1990 movie “Flatliners” which I remember really liking.  The setup for the two movies is almost exactly the same.  In both, a group of medical students are experimenting with the boundaries of life and death and experience unintended consequences.  “The Lazarus Effect” takes that interesting premise and runs a million different directions with it and never arrives anywhere.

The movie has a very slow build that makes it feel like we’re placing the blocks for a satisfying denouement, but instead it decides to kick the blocks over like a petulant child.  There is just so much wasted potential here.  For example, earlier on, they resurrect a dog from the dead and it immediately acts really weird, not eating and just sitting around.  So, of course, the two scientists take the dog home with them because that’s totally safe.  But whatever.  The dog begins having more and more aggressive episodes and you think, “Ok, maybe they’re going to go the Cujo route”, but that’s all they end up doing with it.  It breaks out of the same cage a few time and looks threatening and that’s it.  Then they basically just drop it from the movie completely in a totally pointless scene.

There is also a completely useless sub-plot in which a pharmaceutical corporation ends up buying all the research.  I don’t know why it was included in the movie.  It did not advance any part of the main plot at all and everything could have turned out exactly as it did if they saved us all that 15 minutes of the movie.

All of these failings could be forgiven if the movie were to establish any sort of atmosphere or evoke even an inkling of emotion, but it does neither.  The characters are all hollow and lifeless and all attempts to evoke an emotional response are amateurish at best.  For instance, the movie  sets itself up as a horror film early on by making an excuse for why cell phone coverage doesn’t work (they’re in the basement) but then throws at us an entity that can manipulate electricity at will and doesn’t even bother to give us the ubiquitous “Oh, that’s right, cell phones don’t work here!” scene at any tense point in the movie.

I have listed only a few of the failings of this movie.  There may be a good drinking game involved in watching this film and pointing out all the inconsistencies, but if you’re not going to do that, you should stay far away from “The Lazarus Effect”.

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