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REVIEW — “The Lazarus Effect”

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 It comes as some surprise that I liked “The Lazarus Effect” as much as I did. On the surface it looks like another ‘evil spirit’ type of film, but tonally it is much different. Despite the fact that the trailer (which I posted below in case you still want to see it) ruins two of the deaths, there was still more than a fair share of surprises, and it had audiences jumping. While there wasn’t much room for character development and story depth, the creative minds behind this project expertly crafted what could be the first entry in a long franchise (of course), but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

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With a lean run-time of less than 1 and a half hours we aren’t given much in terms of character development, and aren’t given much insight into the antagonist, the Lazarus serum. We are introduced to what will be a future conflict, should a sequel be made, at about the halfway mark, and this also leads us to the conflict for this entry as well. I like how they set this up as it gives us a little bit of detail now with the promise of more to come in the future. However, that little bit of sequel setup, which also helps propel this story, took away from their ability to make us care for any of these characters. They had to cut out a lot of relationship building and development, and in the end you feel nothing for anyone, NOT EVEN THE DOG!

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Despite having some predictable jump scares there was also a lot of tension and legitimate scares. You have the typical build up to an inevitable BOO!, but then you also had some moments that were similar in creepiness to such films as “Alien”/”Aliens,” “Hollow Man,” and “Pet Cemetery.” It’s these moments that really differ this from other genre dreck, and help you enjoy the thrill ride. While it takes a little while to get to the meat of this horror, once you’re there it doesn’t let go until the very final moment. However, the entire buildup to when the proverbial sh** hits the fan really helps add to the menacing nature of the Lazarus serum, and despite it being an inanimate object, a man-made substance, you can’t help but fear what will happen if/when it gets into the wrong hands.

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The cast was great, and everyone turned in a solid performance, but unfortunately no one was really given anything to work with. None of these characters were written with any specific actors in mind, which turns them into quasi-generic beings just existing in this flick to potentially get slaughtered. I do have to give them credit for at least taking things seriously, as no one cheesed up their performance like you usually see in horror films. Blumhouse Productions really knows how to get the best out of their actors, but unfortunately they still need to work on doing the same with their writers.

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This isn’t your typical horror movie as it mixes all kinds of genres and tones. The best way to describe it is a mix of “Hollow Man,” “Lucy,” and “X-Men: The Last Stand” (Phoenix anyone?) with a little “Flatliners” sprinkled on top.  This isn’t the best film I’ve ever seen, but it seems fresh in its use of franchise building to help propel the main story. While the characters were under-developed, and a lot of scares predictable, the movie is still very tense and creepy. The lean run-time is what really has me sold as something like this could have easily been dragged out longer, without proper development, and been made a dud. I also appreciate how the take a turn away from what everyone is expecting, demons and such, to give us something different. 4/5

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