Blu-ray Review: The Lazarus Effect

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The Lazarus Effect proved rather ineffective at the box office in February of this year. The modestly-budgeted horror flick scared up just $26 million at the domestic box office (adding only $10 million internationally). This isn’t necessarily significant, as box office numbers often bear little relation to product quality, but it does suggest the premise didn’t catch many people’s attention. Horror films often shamelessly recycle ideas, but this “reanimating the dead” plot feels particularly cobbled together from superior sources. The obvious comparison is Frankenstein (in the story’s many incarnations), but there’s also a significant amount of elements cribbed from Flatliners, Pet Sematary, and even the recent Luc Besson hit Lucy.

lazarus04 (380x253).jpgLuckily it’s all over in a scant 83 minutes. The unnecessarily-prolonged opening act deals with a team of medical researchers led by romantic couple Frank (Mark Duplass) and Zoe (Olivia Wilde) as they attempt to test their “Lazarus serum.” The purpose of the serum is to assist in keeping a comatose body functioning while surgery is being performed (or something like that), but they soon discover that it can actually resurrect the dead. Their first test subject is a dog, but when Zoe dies suddenly after an accident, Frank immediately jumps into using it on a human. We’ve already been primed for things to go wrong because the dog was acting weird after it was brought back to life. The resurrected Zoe soon finds her brain operating in overdrive, allowing her to control objects via telekinesis. She’s also now a violent murderer.

lazarus09 (380x277).jpgHonestly I thought Olivia Wilde had more on the ball, career-wise, than this kind of thing. She’s certainly more talented than this material. The trouble isn’t that The Lazarus Effect is terrible, it’s just highly uninspired. There’s no real reason to watch this over one of the aforementioned films from which it rips off its ideas.

lazarus13 (195x280).jpgThere’s no reason to carp about Fox Home Entertainment’s 1080p high definition presentation of The Lazarus Effect. The Blu-ray contains a great transfer of Michael Fimognari’s stylishly dark cinematography. The digitally-shot film was produced on a relatively low budget, but it looks outstanding even when purposely dim lighting threatens to drown out fine detail. It sounds top notch as well, with a DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix that does exactly what a good horror soundtrack should do—there are plenty of spooky atmospheric sound effects placed strategically within the surround spectrum.

Not surprisingly given its lackluster box office performance, The Lazarus Effect Blu-ray is a bit light on extras. There’s a pair of promotional featurettes: “Creating Fear” (15 minutes) and “Playing God: The Moral Dilemma” (eight minutes, and not nearly as thoughtful as its title suggests). We also get four minutes of deleted and extended scenes. Fox’s Blu-ray package also includes a Digital HD copy.

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Chaz Lipp is a Seattle-based freelance writer whose focus is music and film. As “The Other Chad,” he has written for the online magazine Blogcritics since 2008. When he’s not writing, Chaz can be found trolling jazz clubs, attempting to find somewhere to play his sax (whether anyone wants to hear…

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