THE LAZARUS EFFECT (2015)
Olivia Wilde, Mark Duplass, Donald Glover, Evan Peters, Sarah Bolger
Directed by David Gelb
In many ways "The Lazarus Effect" is an anomalous film. It features an indie cast in a mainstream horror movie that's directed by a documentarian that brought us the wonderful "Jiro Dreams of Sushi" in 2012.
Mark Duplass and Olivia Wilde play engaged scientists Frank and Zoe who, with the help of lab assistants Clay (Evan Peters) and Niko (Donald Glover), have invented a serum that, when combined with electricity, resurrects the dead. Ava (Sarah Bolger), a college student, is on hand to shoot video after convincing the team to let her document their experiments.
After an unsuccessfully attempt to bring a pig back to life, the group manages to raise Rocky the dog from the dead. They notice that Rocky's cataracts have disappeared and the dogs brain activity is off the charts. After a small celebration, catholic Zoe begins to second guess their work fearing that they pulled Rocky out of doggy heaven. Fiancé Frank gives her the "forget that religious mumbo-jumbo we're SCIENTISTS" speech and so back to work they go. Soon the pooch starts doing Cujo impersonations and the team come to the conclusion that something has gone wrong.
It's during the group's second attempt at resurrecting a dog that Zoe gets electrocuted during a freak accident. After an adrenaline shot and a defibrillator fail at bringing her back, Frank uses the Lazarus serum on his dead fiancé and before you know it she's sitting upright with a deer in the headlights expression while asking "Did I just die?"
At this point the film ventures from Flatliners territory to Carrie meets The Shining with a little Lucy thrown in for good measure. In other words there's nothing here that we haven't seen before. There are some tense moments in the film thanks to the recurring power outages and poorly lit laboratory, and the finale tries to give us Zoe's backstory, but it's all just a bit silly. I think the film would have been better if it leaned more towards science instead of the supernatural, or if Fred Gwynne's Jud character from Pet Sematary was walking around reminding everyone "Sometimes dead is better."