“The Lazarus Effect” rehashes a classic storyline. Scientists playing god, discounting spirituality, and trying to overcome death. In the history of storytelling, this has never worked out to their benefit. In this film, lover/geniuses Frank (Mark Duplass) and Zoe (Olivia Wilde) have developed a serum that can regenerate neural pathways. They hope that the serum, injected directly into an animal’s temple and coupled with an electrical jolt, will be able to bring life back to the dead. Through a series of unfortunate events, one of the team members requires this resurrection procedure, but afterwards is somehow…different. Chaos ensues.
The first half of the movie is quite uneven. There are moments of inspiration, and fun jabs at other film myths (Such as the 10% of the human brain trope), but at other times it feels very sub-par. A dead character is clearly seen breathing and there are some completely out of place and silly jump-scares. Seriously, how many people keep a freaky pig-mask in a laboratory and decide to wear it while delivering sushi? The first half is also padded with scary imagery that exists mostly to keep the impatient audience intrigued till the second half. However! The writing is, at least in comparison to other flicks in this genre, rather clever. The team isn’t comprised of bumbling idiots, they are generally intelligent and are aware when things are getting out of hand. The scientific jargon they throw around is also just feasible enough to sound believable. And while the faith versus science afterlife debate is a bit played out, it does add an extra level of tension to the film when bad things start to happen.
Considering how the movie has been marketed, its a bit of a surprise when it ends up having more in common with “Lucy” than “Flatliners”, but in this case, that’s a good thing.