“The Lazarus Effect” misses out on zombie trend

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First Posted: 3/2/2015

As an unintelligent man, sometimes I’m fine with a stupid movie. Actually, scratch that. There is no ‘sometimes’ about it. I genuinely prefer a stupid movie. A stupid movie will not force me to reflect, think or reconsider my willful, flagrant stupidity with almost lyrical shots of tearful Asian women staring off into the distance.

But please understand, I don’t automatically applaud every dumb piece of garbage that artlessly trundles out of the gaping poophole of Hollywood. If a stupid movie doesn’t replicate the bracing idiocy of drunkenly sneaking into a neighbor’s pool at 3 a.m. for a skinnydipping/whippets session (I will be 36 by the time you read this, incidentally) then I will hold my nose with one hand and wave my other hand in front of my face so strangers will know that this movie is a bit of a stinker. And if you can’t see my hands right now, I think it’s in your best interest to know that I consider “The Lazarus Effect” to be a stinker.

“The Lazarus Effect” doesn’t bring the kind of dumb fun that nude whippets can bring. It’s dumb in that frustrating and excruciating way that can only come when you watch yourself lock your keys in the car. There’s really only one way to watch “The Lazarus Effect” and that’s helplessly as you mumble, “Why did I do this to myself” to an embarrassed companion in the darkness.

There are just some pop-cultural streams that shouldn’t be crossed. The theological horrors of “The Exorcist” and the manic, junk science behind “The Re-Animator” are two concepts that should be kept as far away from each other as humanly possible. Otherwise, you’re left with something as moronic as “The Lazarus Effect” that doesn’t have anything more substantial to say than, “Angels is better than science!”

In the film, a group of totally dude-ical, wisecrackin’, vape-friendly scientists (Olivia Wilde, Donald Glover, Mark Duplass and Evan Peters), accidentally stumble upon a serum – initially created to treat coma patients – that resurrects the dead. The first subject to be re-gifted with life is a recently deceased dog who Wilde and Duplass, inexplicably, adopt and bring into their home. Surprisingly this undead, zombie dog turns out to be bad news. At least I’m assuming it’s bad news. Most of the time it just looks disinterested and tired.

At one point it does stand on a bed and merely looks disinterested over a sleeping Wilde. So, scary? I guess. At any rate, in the midst of all of this scaranormal dogtivity, Wilde accidentally electrocutes herself and dies. Unwilling to let the love of his life go, Duplass uses the serum to resurrect Wilde who is now apparently possessed by a demon that has endowed her with telekinesis, telepathy and a mutant healing factor? I really don’t know. Whatever the case may be the film basically turns into “Lucy” at this point, that is if “Lucy” was dumber and shot entirely within the confines of a poorly lit church basement.

Hoo boy. Where to start with this? First, the cast isn’t just overqualified, they’re clearly in the wrong movie. These people shouldn’t be in a horror movie, they should be in some Manhattan based romantic comedy about rival architects who learn to laugh about love, again. Secondly, the film toys with lofty concepts like faith vs. science but doesn’t have the courage to fully explore them.

Instead, like the many seemingly important plot threads throughout the movie (such as Glover’s unrequited crush on Wilde), these concepts are abandoned the moment Wilde starts crushing people with her mind. Of course this brings me to the real reason “The Lazarus Effect” isn’t worth your time, it just isn’t scary. Partly due to its PG-13 rating but mostly it’s because of director David Gelb’s inexperience. Better known for giving us the documentary “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”, Gelb telegraphs his scares and holds his shots way longer than he should. This guy can’t even successfully pull off a jump scare which is something even the hackiest of horror hacks can pull off in their sleep.

Fragmented, dull and annoyingly idiotic, “The Lazarus Effect” wasn’t made to be watched, it was made to collect dust in the DVD bin at Big Lots.