Horror Movies and Stuff got the opportunity recently to interview filmmaker David Gelb! Who's first genre offering "The Lazarus Effect" terrified moviegoers earlier this year. And is now available on DVD and BluRay, as of this past Tuesday June 16th. In the movie... a group of researchers led by Frank and his fiance Zoe have seemingly achieved the unthinkable. Bringing the dead back to life. After a successful, yet unsanctioned, trial on a deceased animal, the team is ready to share their success with the world. That is until the dean of their university learns of their experiments, and decides to pull the plug. Not to be thwarted, the team launches a rogue underground attempt to recreate their experiment. Upon which things go horribly wrong for one of their own. Read on below for the Full Interview!
Horrormoviesandstuff:"The Lazarus Effect" is your first foray into the horror genre. What first sparked the idea to accept this project once is was presented to you?
David:I thought this was a particularly cool script that takes on the classic "Frankenstein" archetype but with an interesting perspective on what happens when you die. I loved the role of Zoe and how she starts out as the protagonist and then completely transforms.
Horrormoviesandstuff:As a filmmaker doing horror for the first time, what was your day one approach to "The Lazarus Effect"?
David:Lots of story-boarding and preparation. We had a short amount of time and limited resources to make the film so we really had to plan everything meticulously to make sure the scares were working.
Horrormoviesandstuff:Most horror fans and horror movie aficionados biggest complaint, is that current horror isn't terrifying or effective enough. Too watered down. How did you see "The Lazarus Effect" as bucking that trend, in what ways?
David:I think we tried to do a horror movie with some interesting ideas and compelling actors. The more interesting the characters, the more the scares will work.
Horrormoviesandstuff:"The Lazarus Effect" was penned by the team of Luke Dawson and Jeremy Slater. The former of which was also responsible for penning the screenplay for 2008's "Shutter" Remake. Did their script inspire a new-found appreciation or further appreciation within you for the modern day horror film?
David:I thought the script was really cool and had a great mix of both modern and classic horror ideas.
Horrormoviesandstuff:Some have pegged this film as a current day "Flatliners". The 90's Sci-fi/Horror film which starred Keifer Sutherland and Kevin Bacon. And also dealt with the dark repercussions of tampering with life after death. Do you see any similarities between the two films?
David:Definitely a lot of similarities with "Flatliners", which is a film I love. The main concept of med students playing with the line between life and death is consistent between the two. One of the things that I thought was so cool about "Flatliners" was the cast. They had Kevin Bacon, Keifer Sutherland, Julia Roberts, Oliver Platt and others - it was such a cool ensemble of up and comers that would become a generation of stars. I like to think of that as another similarity with our film - we have a lot of cool actors that are really coming into their prime and all have their own fan bases. I hope in the future look back at this movie in disbelief that we were able to get 5 huge stars as our leads.
Horrormoviesandstuff:Speaking of which, the subject matter tackled here is one of the films main female characters (Zoe) participates in an experiment to bring the dead back once they've died. Of course, things don't just go "that" smoothly. Thus, she ends up "possessed" or something to that end. Can you explain exactly what the female lead goes through/deals with, without giving away too much for those who haven't seen the film yet?
David:Zoe is a complex character - she's a scientist but still has some faith in the religion she was brought up in. She sees the moral complexities of the situation of bringing the dead back to life. She understands the technology can help people but is wary of playing god. When she dies and is brought back to life (arguably against her will), her entire perspective changes. Frank had no idea what the side effects might be, and no real idea if she would have wanted to be brought back to life. For these actions there are moral consequences and Zoe becomes the one who metes out justice.
Horrormoviesandstuff:A pretty talented young cast was assembled for this movie. Including Olivia Wilde, Evan Peters, Sarah Bolger, and Donald Glover. The cast is also peppered in with some veteran thesps like Ray Wise and Mark Duplass for example. How excited were you as you watched the casting talent come together during the early stages of the production?
David:Assembling this cast is one of the things I'm proudest of in this film. When we found out Mark Duplass was interested, and then Olivia, and then Donald and Evan Peters and Sarah Bolger, it was such a rush. I knew that they would be awesome and help elevate the film. Couldn't have been more excited.
Horrormoviesandstuff:Of all the stories told horror films past and present, still one of the spookiest plot devices is what lies beyond this world, and the consequences that we as humans face once we come into contact with it, or they, or them. What do you think it is about this particular subject or mystery that constantly manages to intrigue general audiences?
David:The question of what happens when you die is a timeless curiosity that we may never know the answer to. Religion throughout history has been predicated on this question and the proposition that they know the answer. The Ancient Egyptians built the Pyramids because they thought they had the answer. I think the fear of death is so fundamental to the human experience. It's much nicer to think that there is something after death because we can't even fathom the idea of simply not existing.
Horrormoviesandstuff:This film did modestly strong at the box-office grossing $25 million plus on about a $3.4 million budget. Have you or have you not discussed any potential sequels with the studio?
David:I'm very happy that lots of people got the chance to see this film - I think globally we are now around 36 million. A sequel is something we would love to do but not sure how or when it could happen when everyone is so busy with other projects.
Horrormoviesandstuff:With "The Lazarus Effect" now in the books, would you be interested in taking on more horror films/projects in the future?
David:I absolutely would love to do more horror films. My taste is pretty eclectic so I will continue to make lots of different kinds of things. Later this year my documentary on the Ford Mustang, entitled, "A Faster Horse" will come out in theaters and currently my food docu-series "Chef's Table" is playing on Netflix. Hopefully I'll be able to get started on the next narrative feature later this year.
Death... is only THE BEGINNING! Catch "The Lazarus Effect" now on BluRay and DVD! Or on online streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Instant!