** out of ****
The title of the thriller The Lazarus Effect refers to the biblical Lazarus of Bethany who was brought back to life by Jesus. In the film, a group of medical researchers, fronted by Zoe (Olivia Wilde) and her fiancé Frank (Mark Duplass), follow in the footsteps of Doctor Herbert West and attempt to reanimate the dead. Their reasoning for bringing the dead back to life – for a limited time – is so that doctors have a longer period to work and save a life. Of course, the experiment goes terribly awry and Frank ends up having to bring Zoe back to life. Like Stephen King's Pet Sematary, however, the revived Zoe is evil and Frank and his group of students (Sarah Bolger, Donald Glover and Evan Peters) are screwed.
Like recent horror outings like Oculus and Sinister, (spoiler alert!) this movie has a villain, or entity rather, that is so all powerful that the heroes don't even have a chance, so there is no tension or suspense as to whether or not they will get out alive.
The biggest problem with Lazarus is that its explanation for Zoe's new behavior is very muddled. During the few minutes that she was dead before being brought back, she was trapped in a Hell of sorts which somehow turned her rotten. To further confuse things, screenwriters Luke Dawson and Jeremy Slater throw in the “we only use ten percent of our brain” malarkey and that the serum the scientists are using awakens the rest of the brain.
This is all too bad because The Lazarus Effect begins well, appearing somewhat intelligent, but as soon as Zoe returns from the dead it flies off the rails. In the end, it's a pretty dull and disappointing thriller.