The Lazarus Effect

Rated PG-13 {2 out of 5 stars}

The Lazarus Effect follows mad scientist couple Zoe McConnell (Olivia Wilde) and Frank Walton (Mark Duplass) as they try to find the secret to reincarnation at fictional university St. Paternus in Berkley, Calif. With the help of their science team, Clay (American Horror Story’s Evan Peters) and Niko (writer, comedian and rapper Donald Glover), and their documentarian, Eva (Sarah Bolger), Zoe and Frank perform and record their experiments on animals. They move from experimenting on pigs to dogs, sort of like Pet Sematary. Of course Zoe and Frank prove successful in their experiment and all hell breaks loose, because everyone knows that you cannot bring any living thing back from the dead without repercussions.

All seems innocent enough with the zombie animals, but soon the experiment becomes a true matter of life and death for the whole team as they are forced to make the difficult decision to perform their mad scientist stuff on one of their own members. Matters of faith and scientific morality are thrown out the window and Frank, Zoe, Niko, Clay and Eva must ask the question, “Who are we really helping?”

In true horror movie fashion, there are flashes of Hell, demonic faces, burning dolls and creepy little children; but the question I continued to ask myself was, “What does it all mean?” Now, I am the horror movie buff. I have seen everything from Killer Mermaids (it really exists, by the way, and you can watch it on Netflix…you’re welcome) to The Shining, a horror movie classic. Clearly, I give all horror films a chance and the writers of this movie definitely had an idea, but I just don’t believe that it was executed properly. The film seemed to be all over the place, trying very hard to be deep and meaningful and not living up to the hype. We are shown that Olivia Wilde’s character, Zoe, has a sinister past and that somehow syncs up with the experiment and her Catholic faith (which is mentioned repeatedly), but I never quite figured out the connection. For me, the film just became flashes of darkness and black pupils in a science lab accompanied by screaming and peculiar deaths.


The Lazarus Effect was exceptionally short (only an hour and 23 minutes to be exact) and the ending left the possibility open for a sequel or perhaps even a trilogy (Blumhouse Productions is known for their horror trilogies). This had me thinking that maybe that’s why there were so many plot holes, because they will be filled in later on down the line in subsequent movies. But all the holes left me confused and a little bored. I’m not saying that I wouldn’t see the sequel if there ever is one. Obviously I would because you know, Killer Mermaids…but I probably wouldn’t pay to see it in the theaters. I’ll just wait for Netflix and watch it in the confines of my bed with sweatpants, hair tied, chillin’ with no makeup on…and of course popcorn because all movie watching should be accompanied with popcorn.

Though, it was nice to see one of my favorite comedians and rappers, Donald Glover (aka Childish Gambino) in a film, and I will continue to pay for anything he blesses his pretty little face with. My advice to those who were rooting for this movie is to wait for it to come to Netflix or Redbox and don’t waste the $11.25. The movie just never really got to the point and there were no particularly startling parts. So, I give the writers a hand for trying but you win some and you lose some. Instead, I suggest watching the obvious inspiration for this film, Pet Sematary, and see how a true horror classic is done.