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Cinemascoping
Thursday, March 5, 2015 12:00 am
I suppose it’s a prerequisite that characters in horror films have never seen any horror films themselves.  If they did, then they would know better than to go into the dark house, venture into the creepy woods at night or pick up the hitchhiker at the side of the road.  No, their ignorance is required so that viewers can get the sort of vicarious thrills lacking in our everyday life. Frank and Zoe (Mark Duplass and Olivia Wilde) ponder the ramifications of their resurrection formula in The Lazarus Effect.Courtesy of Blumhouse PicturesCase in point, the groundbreaking scientists in The Lazarus Effect.  They’ve spent all of their time working on a radical procedure in which organisms can be brought back to life after being dead a short period of time.  Obviously, they had no time to read or watch the film versions of Frankenstein or Pet Semetary or take a gander at the myriad zombie movies that are all the rage was not on their priority list.  If they’d just stopped pushing the reanimation envelope and spent some time on these pop culture touchstones, they might have caught on that bringing any thing back to life rarely works out well.  Too bad for them. Frank (Mark Duplass) is the head of a team, which includes his fiancé Zoe (Olivia Wilde) that stumbles upon a method to resurrect the departed. The practical application for this would be to give doctor’s extra time – say 15 to 30 minutes - to resuscitate the recently deceased without having to worry about brain damage. They and their team have made great strides in using this technique, so much so that a pharmaceutical company contacts the university where they’re doing the research and find a loophole through which steal the scientist’s work and develop it on their own.  Desperate to duplicate the results and necessary serum before it can be used on the public, Frank and his crew sneak into their labs one night. Unfortunately, an accident occurs that leaves Zoe dead and before you know it, Frank is applying their Lazarus Process to his lost love, despite the warnings of his colleagues.  Zoe (Olivia Wilde) is not quite right after coming back from the dead in The Lazarus Effect.Courtesy Blumhouse ProductionsWell, I don’t have to tell you that Zoe ain’t quite the same once she comes back from the dark side and before you know it, she’s offing her friends because…well, I’m not really sure why.  I guess it’s what your supposed to do when your brain begins to develop at an astronomical rate and you can start reading other’s minds and can employ telekinesis. And there in lies the problem with Lazarus as it plays fast and loose with its internal logic during its last act, making broad jumps that lack a foothold in the movie’s reality.  Wilde is game and it’s fun to see her go all Carrie, or more recently Lucy, on everyone, but Zoe’s intentions are muddled and make little sense undercutting the actress’ good work.     As produced by Jason Blum, who gave us Paranormal Activity, Insidious, and Sinister, this is a low-budget affair that’s short of settings and long on atmosphere.  Nearly the entire film takes place in the laboratory where the scientists work and credit director David Gleb for keeping things visually interesting despite the static nature of the story, as well as making sure the pace never lags.  And while I did like the film’s ending, the overall lack of logic in Luke Dawson and Jeremy Slater proves to be too much to come back from. 

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