There’s something magical about movie trailers. In a matter of about three minutes, you will determine if what has been presented to you is something you’re going to invest your time in. It’s one of my favorite things about going to the movies. At the time of a movie’s trailer, the movie is perfect. It will be everything I hope it will be. Then the movie releases, and more times than not, it doesn’t meet expectations. We cue the Charlie Brown music, tilt our head down, and walk out the theater.
Last year I considered myself a horror movie fan, but now I question it. I found myself walking out of the theater disappointed after each new horror release, but none of them were as disappointing as The Lazarus Effect. I’m not saying The Lazarus Effect is the worst horror movie of 2015, there are definitely worst, but The Lazarus Effect was the horror movie I anticipated the most, and it was mainly due to the cast.
I admit that the trailer didn’t sell me on this movie, I was actually angry that Donald Glover didn’t even make it out of the trailer alive, but I continued to have faith that Olivia Wilde, Mark Duplass, Donald Glover, and Evan Peters wouldn’t have attached their names to such a bland horror movie. The Lazarus Effect isn’t a good movie, it’s not a bad movie, it just kind of is.
Wilde, Duplass, Glover, and Peters are medical students who have developed a serum that can bring life back into the dead. It’s basically what the story of Frankenstein is, but where The Lazarus Effect fails is that it doesn’t have the emotions that Frankenstein has. Frankenstein isn’t about a crazy scientist who brings a monster to life, it’s about the monster wanting acceptance and not being able to receive it. Wilde’s character Zoe says, “if we are going to be asking the questions, we have to be ready for the answers.” The movie presents many questions, what happens when human’s play god? Is religion or science more believable? Why does Zoe want to kill all her friends because they brought her back to life? None of these are really developed, the movie just moves from plot point to plot point without any emotional investment in these characters.
There are too many moments that happen with no explanation whatsoever. The reason Zoe dies is because she forgets to take her jewelry off when she pulls the electrical lever on their last attempt at the experiment, even though they’ve probably done this experiment multiple times. Zoe goes to hell, where she has to relive her worst moment on a loop, but for some reason she’s able to pull people into her hell. After being brought back to life Zoe can read minds, levitate, use telekinesis, and teleport without any explanation besides she’s using 100% of her brain. We’ve learned that the 10% of our brain theory isn’t true several years ago, but we’re still using that in movies to this day for some reason. Even after the audience knows Zoe has all these powers, the last 20 minutes is a hide and seek game between Zoe and the final survivors. It all makes no sense.
Even the ending makes zero sense. Zoe has killed all her friends and is now beginning to bring them back to life using the Lazarus serum. What’s the motivation here? Why did she kill them in the first place? What’s her plan?
This movie needed the Lazarus serum injected into it. There has to be a better movie laying around on the cutting room floor. This movie has the potential, but never seems to reach it. When it comes across an interesting topic, it's just glossed over so the movie can advance to its final moments. Just a little more time, and some story and character development could have really made this movie something special.
One of the common comments I see when people are criticizing horror movies is, “What are you expecting? It’s a mindless horror movie.” It’s this kind of thinking that has gotten the horror genre where it’s at today. I, like many audiences should expect a good movie. It’s possible for horror movies to be great, some can even claim to be Oscar nominated. Just because it’s a horror movie doesn’t mean it should be held to a lower standard. Horror movies should be a place where the darkest of human emotion and thoughts are explored. Yes, it’s fun to see a mindless splatter-fest sometimes, but all horror movies shouldn’t be held to mindless entertainment. The Exorcist, Rosemary’s Baby, The Shining, Alien, Seven, and It Follows are examples of what the horror genre can produce. Here’s to hoping 2016 can be better for the horror genre. Check out 5 of the most anticipated horror films for some of 2016’s hopefuls.
Was there a horror movie that disappointed you more in 2015? Let me know in the comments below.