The Lazarus Effect (2015)

Directed By: David Gelb
Written By: Luke Dawson
  Jeremy Slater
Starring: Mark Duplass
  Olivia Wilde
  Sarah Bolger
  Evan Peters
The Lazarus Effect

Joining us this week is guest reviewer, Neil Sheppard!

Hollywood cafes are staffed almost entirely with wannabe actors who dream of getting their shot at the big time. A very small percentage of them manage to land one or two lucky parts that earn them the kind of cache it takes to be able to pick among the offers that come rolling in.

Sometimes they’ll choose to pay back the person who gave them their break by starring in another of their movies; they might choose to direct something themselves; or they might fall in love with a particular script by a budding, young filmmaker that they can boost up with some star power. It usually turns out that any of those three choices will be a terrible mistake and they’ll lose all the goodwill they built up with a shocking stinker.

On some rare occasions, however, a whole group of talented newcomers will unite behind such a colossal turd of a movie that you will spend your entire viewing time wondering what the holy frack made them think that this particular script was worthy of anything more than a resolute flush.

The Lazarus Effect is just such a movie. It badly wants to be a cross between Flatliners and The Exorcist; it desperately wants to be creepy; and it urgently needs you to think it’s a reasoned discussion on life after death versus scientific fact. It is none of those things.

Mark Duplass from The League, Olivia Wilde from House, Donald Glover from Community, Evan Peters from American Horror Story and Sarah Bolger from The Tudors are a group of scientists who manage to re-animate a dead dog. Wilde’s character dies in an accident and Duplass sets about reviving her. She comes back evil and kills everyone with her new psychic powers. The end.

…no, honestly, that’s it…

Everything else is just filler that goes nowhere. Glover has a crush on Wilde, Bolger might be a spy for a pharmaceutical company and Wilde might be a super-evolved human driven insane by her experiences or could be possessed by something from hell. None of those plot points evolves and none of it has a point.

It’s shot like a documentary (no surprise given David Gelb generally shoots documentaries), the characters are so thinly sketched that they can be boiled down to bullet points and exist only to spout random and verifiably-false science, and you could do the effects yourself with a pen, Worst of all, the kills are just plain dumb. Telekinetically crushed to death in a cupboard? Really?!

What’s truly incomprehensible, though, is that the cast are uniformly good. They actually manage to raise some atrocious dialogue up to merely dull, which may well be the problem. Bad movies can at least be good for a laugh, but when a film this bad is played so straight by such a good cast, there’s not even fun to be had in mocking it.

We will likely never know why such a great cast chose to make such a pointless movie. All we can really do is try our best to forget about it.

Rating: ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

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