Combustible Celluloid
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With: Mark Duplass, Olivia Wilde, Sarah Bolger, Evan Peters, Donald Glover
Written by: Luke Dawson, Jeremy Slater
Directed by: David Gelb
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of horror violence, terror and some sexual references
Running Time: 83
Date: 02/27/2015

The Lazarus Effect (2015)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Resurrection Infection

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The Lazarus Effect barely avoids being yet another found-footage horror movie, even though it has a documentary filmmaker character (Sarah Bolger) filming everything, and security cameras are everywhere. That was a wise move, as was casting decent, reliable actors such as Bolger, Mark Duplass, Olivia Wilde, Donald Glover, and Evan Peters. But the next question becomes: what were they doing here?

While working on a way to extend the window of time between when a person dies and when the brain actually dies, med students Frank (Duplass) and Zoe (Wilde) develop a serum that can actually resurrect the dead. Their first experiment, with a dog, goes fairly well, albeit with some weird side effects. But then a loophole in a grant causes their lab to be shut down. They decide to run another undercover experiment at night to re-create their lost data, but during the experiment, Zoe is electrocuted and dies. Frank decides to use the process to bring her back, but what returns is something entirely unexpected.

The movie is a terrible recycling of old ideas ranging from Frankenstein and The Monkey's Paw to last year's Lucy, not to mention the routine lighting effects and jump-scares. It might have used these things in fresh ways, but doesn't bother. Rather, it anxiously, recklessly rushes through its plot toward the climax, as if afraid of anyone noticing its emptiness. The Zoe character doesn't even get a chance to adapt to her new condition, or to ruminate on what she's been through. She goes from 0 to 60, from sweetheart to an evil monster with total control of her powers. What a waste of talent.

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