Netflix Nay: The Lazarus Effect (2015)


“A team of researchers develop a serum that can resurrect the dead, but they soon discover that the drug causes terrifying side effects.”

Director: David Gelb
Writers: Luke Dawson, Jeremy Slater
Starring: Mark Duplass, Olivia Wilde, Sarah Bolger

Why you need to skip it:

The Lazarus Effect is seemingly one of those horror movies that will forever be in Netflix’s digital library. The movie has caught my attention a couple times but I always pushed off watching it because I knew that it would always be there. I finally took the plunge one late Friday night and fired up the movie while my partner slept. We usually watch horror movies together, but I had a feeling this one wouldn’t be worth waking her for.

The Lazarus Effect is more of a sci-fi horror than anything else and we are immediately introduced to its weird scientific themed plot as the movie begins in a laboratory on the campus of UC Berkeley. The lead scientist, played by Mark Duplass, is the driving force behind experiments geared toward re-animating the dead. Mark Duplass’s partner, played by Olivia Wilde, is the sexy and intelligent lead who is credited with creating the milky white wonder serum that supposedly can bring back the dead. The two lead scientists are also joined by assistants Donald Glover and Evan Peters. Despite the rock star cast, The Lazarus Effect falls short in many ways and left me feeling bored and unnecessarily claustrophobic as most the movie takes place in a cramped laboratory.

I’m just going to come right out and say it. Most people interested in this movie are so simply because of Olivia Wilde. I’ll admit she is the reason I even thought about watching this and you may or may not be disappointed to discover there are absolutely no nude or partial nude scenes with her. Bummer. Olivia Wilde is a great actress however, and her wide range of emotions for the role are executed beautifully. Olivia Wilde’s character is genuinely interesting and she is literally the only element pushing the movie forward and making it watchable. Despite the boring and rather ridiculous plot, Olivia managed to bring some fun to the movie as she evolved into an aggressive and violent telepathic force to be reckoned with.

One of the main reasons The Lazarus Effect falls short is the awkward and unpolished role for Donald Glover. Donald Glover is nothing short of a comedic and artistic genius on camera and this movie simply doesn’t play to his strengths. Instead, Glover is reduced to the role of a casual and somewhat annoying lab assistant pining for Olivia Wilde from the shadows. I liken throwing Glover in this role to splashing a bucket of paint thinner across a beautiful painting. It is obvious that Glover is being steered in his lab assistant role and what we are left with is a stripped down and uninspired performance. I believe the movie would have been far greater had Glover played the role of Frank, the lead scientist. Frank’s role required a touch of mad scientist that Duplass just couldn’t deliver.

The scares of the movie simply are not scary at all. There are no jump scares and the timing of the movie just seemed a bit off. It was fun to watch Olivia Wilde’s character evolve into a maniacal blood-thirsty demon, but it all leaves much to be desired.
The Lazarus Effect was a Netflix Nay for me and I would encourage you to pass on it the next time you are searching for a late-night horror movie. Thanks for reading!