The Lazarus Effect (Blu-ray)

June 25, 2015 6 Min Read

Review by: Matt Malouf

Plot: What’s it about?

I had a passing interest in The Lazarus Effect shortly before its theatrical release, but the film left theaters before I knew it. The less than stellar reviews also had me worried, but it seemed like the kind of film that I would enjoy. We haven’t seen many Science Fiction films of this sort since the late 90’s when they were being churned out almost on a regular basis. The premise is also intriguing. It involves a group of medical students led by Frank (Mark Duplass) and his finance Zoe (Olivia Wilde) discovering a way to bring patients back to life. It’s known as the Lazarus. Through a trial run, they bring a deceased dog back from the dead. It should come as no surprise that the dog isn’t the same as it once was. As if that wasn’t enough, the dean eventually learns what the team has been doing and decides to shut the lab down. The team decide to sneak back in one night to gather proof that they created the serum (a pharmaceutical company is planning on buying it out), but Zoe is electrocuted in the process. After some debate, Frank convinces the others to help use the serum on Zoe to try and bring her back to life. They are successful, but that comes at a price. Zoe can manipulate things and read people’s thoughts.

You won’t have to look hard to see similarities to Frankenstein with the use of bringing the dead back to life. That’s a central dilemma at the heart of the film. Should we be allowed to play God? Certainly that can have serious consequences, and the film does a good job of showing that. Truthfully, there’s a lot to enjoy here, but the film ultimately left me wanting more. Most going into it will have a general idea of the basic premise, but it’s a good 30 or so minutes before Zoe is killed and brought back to life. That makes for something of a sluggish first act. I was never bored, but the film definitely takes its time getting to the meat of the story. The film is rated PG-13 and at times I wonder had it pushed for an R rating if it would’ve been more successful. There’s definitely a campy vibe here that works in its favor. Wilde is also good at playing Zoe since it’s something of a tricky role. Her behavior after being brought back to life is much different and Wilde does a convincing job. Duplass does OK, but he seems a bit bland at times. The rest of the cast is fine even if their characters aren’t given much to do. At the end of the day, this film makes for a decent rental. I do feel that it could’ve lost some stuff in the first act and replaced it with more during the last act where it starts to feel rushed. It’s not as terrifying as it could be and relies mostly on loud jump scares. Some of them work well, but become predictable to a point. We get a fairly entertaining film that, with some work, could’ve been a great one.

Video: How’s it look?

Fox has done a great job here. We get an AVC encoded, 2.40:1 transfer that is consistently solid throughout. Details are strong, the print clean and colors all nice and accurate. There are a lot of darker scenes, but things were always clear and easy to see. Fans will be pleased with the transfer.

Audio: How’s it sound?

The DTS HD track is also solid. I mentioned the film having many jump scenes and that means the volume is sporadic throughout. You might want to have the remote handy since you’ll probably be turning the volume up and down during much of the film. Vocals were clean with no issues either.

Supplements: What are the extras?

  • Deleted Scenes – Three small scenes, one of which is an extended death scene of a major character. Nothing worthwhile, though.
  • Creating Fear: The Making of The Lazarus Effect – A standard, but still decent behind the scenes look at the film.
  • Playing God: The Moral Dilemma – This is a shorter feature (7:46) that discusses the Moral issue of bringing the dead back to life and takes a brief look at both sides of the debate. It’s not too deep, but is still worth a look.
  • Theatrical Trailer and Previews

The Bottom Line

While not without flaws, I was still mostly entertained by Lazarus. I would’ve liked a bit more, though. The first act is a bit slow and the last act feels rushed, especially the abrupt ending. Still, the movie makes for a worthy rental. Fox has done a fine job with the disc, even if the features leave a bit to be desired. Rent it.

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