The Lazarus Effect Review


By: Justin Jasso (@jjasso007)

As life on Earth continues to evolve, so does humanities attempts at “playing God”. A couple hundred years ago, if you had a cold, there was a good chance you could die. Well, maybe not from a cold, but you know what I’m getting at. Now we’re at the point where we can clone species, regenerate tissues, and even choose the characteristics of children before they are born. What was once impossible has now become a part of daily life and continues to erase that line between fact and fiction. This is the foundation for the film The Lazarus Effect, David Gelb’s first big screen production.

One of the hardest things in life is dealing with the loss of a loved one. But what if that didn’t have to be the case? What if loved ones could be brought back from the dead? A group of doctors, led by Frank (Mark Duplass), his fiancée Zoe (Olivia Wilde) and a couple medical students, have been working on a way to bring deceased mammals back to life. With the successful reanimation of a dog, post mortem, the next step. But when the dean of the University in which the experiment took place finds out, he shuts the program down. The team then takes matters into their own hands, getting back into the lab one evening. When an experiment goes wrong, Zoe is accidently killed, and Frank decides he needs to try the experiment on Zoe so he won’t lose her. With some luck, they are able to successfully bring Zoe back to life, yet things seem off. Not only does the team know it, but Zoe, herself, realizes it. And when terrifying things begin happening, it leaves them to question whether they should be playing God.


The dilemma Frank faces is one which many of us have been in: dealing with the loss of a loved one. When we wish we could turn back the hands of time or have some miracle cure to bring them back. As humans, it is difficult to deal with that pain. Given the exact situation, many of us would choose the path Frank took. Writers Luke Dawson and Jeremy Slater give us their opinion and views on trying to alter that which should not be changed, showing us that when we impede on subjects in which we have no knowledge, what may seem like a good idea can turn from bad to worse. The safety that one tends to think of being in a medical facility is flipped upside down into that of a nightmare. Should we continue to probe the boundaries of human genetics and what we can do with gene therapy and technology? At what point do we push it too far? Dawson and Slater leave that question to the audience to determine on their own.

The story is just a story until the actors bring the words to life, and the heavy lifting is put on the shoulders of Olivia Wilde. She’s young, ambitious, and passionate about the work they’ve been doing, but the moment she’s brought back to life, she’s a different person. Wilde slowly delves deeper into the darkness of her character, bringing forth a person that is no longer human, but an evolved being, of sorts. Wilde was made for this role and seems to enjoy every bit of the transition throughout the film. Duplass is the ever loving, soon to be husband, who realizes soon enough that the choice he made to bring his fiancée back was the wrong choice, yet fights to the end holding on to the hope that she’ll be the person she was – a human quality many hold on to. The rest of the supporting cast plays their roles as needed, adequate enough.


The Lazarus Effect isn’t anything new, per say, yet it doesn’t feel old either. It comes off as a modern day Frankenstein but with a much more relatable story. Olivia Wilde is the real draw for this film. Without her, it would be just another survival horror / thriller film. But there are some good elements to like, and some good scares to be had. And with weak box office competition in theaters at this time, it’s worth a watch. Just don’t expect anything Oscar worthy. Those films will come out later in the year.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

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