The Lazarus Effect

lazarus effect
Olivia Wilde, Mark Duplass, Sarah Bolger, Donald Glover, Evan Peters
Directed by David Gelb
Rating: A

If doctors had the tools to bring patients back from the dead within minutes of dying, do they snatch the departed soul from an afterlife?

Doctors Frank (Duplass) and Zoe (Wilde) work on perfecting a serum that will reanimate corpses. After three years of trial and error, the doctors and their team bring back a deceased dog with stage five cataracts in both eyes. The dog continues to live and the cataracts have cleared. The next day the team discovers their work has been sold to a company partnered with the school who gave them a grant. Unless the team replicates the serum using a hidden stash, they will not get the credit for being able to bring back the dead.

After breaking into the lab in the middle of the night the team rushes in a haphazard manor to get proof of their work on camera. Zoe is electrocuted when she pulls the switch to transfer electricity to the dead animal’s brain. A distressed Frank tries to resuscitate her but cannot bring her back, until he decides to try the serum on her. She will be the first human tested this way. The Zoe that comes back has a higher brain function than most humans. People use 10 percent of their brains, the serum activates the 90 percent of her brain that is not used. This unlocks her potential to use telekinesis and telepathy which is used against the team in a deadly fashion.


The Lazarus Effect is a terrifying movie, using sights and sounds to create a suspenseful environment. The cameras focus on Zoe’s cross necklace multiple times as well as reference her beliefs as a Catholic. The movie plays on the idea of hell and bringing the dead back to life as an act of playing God. Zoe believes she was sent to hell to witness a traumatic experience from her life on repeat for years, even though she was dead for an hour. This knowledge might have been the cause to make her go crazy hunting down her team.

Multiple jump-scares throughout The Lazarus Effect build tension for the acts of horror Zoe commits. Between the flickering of lights and the hide-and-seek feel of the dark lab, the movie uses these opportunities to scare the audience. For example there are moments when an outline of a dark figure appears in the background and another instance of Zoe’s ability to appear in one spot then when the lights go off and when on, reappearing next to her victim.

The Lazarus Effect was a well-done horror movie. It could have been disappointingly cheesy as a movie on bringing the dead back to life but the quality was excellent. It’s worth seeing at night so when you come out of the theater the feeling of terror remains.


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