If you had the chance, would you bring back someone you loved who had died, even if only for a short time? I posed that question to Jeanne, specifically about me, and her answer was "let me think about it". Her current case of the flu is obviously clouding her judgment.
"The Lazarus Effect" is a story about reanimation, that is, reviving the dead. It opens with an unsuccessful procedure on a pig, then a dog with mixed results, and finally a human, with dire and somewhat predictable consequences. The movie features strong performances by Mark Duplass as Frank, the lead scientist, and Olivia Wilde as Zoe, his fiancee and co-contributor on the project.
Before we go further, here's a piece of advice: do NOT read the synopsis on IMDb or any other site. Too much of the plot is given away.
The first half of this film is the best, with the actors reciting the technical gibberish very convincingly, while trying to resuscitate a dog named Rocky... and what a dog! The second half is essentially conventional horror stuff we've seen before with this genre. But at least it is very well acted, including the supporting cast of Evan Peters, Sara Bolger and Donald Glover. There are no signs of any of the characters doing something completely stupid. Credit screenwriters Luke Dawson and Jeremy Slater.
Director David Gelb employs a lot of foreshadowing, beginning with Zoe removing her jewelry during a procedure, and later with Rocky assuming a threatening posture on Zoe's bed. The film will jolt you,
at times, so be prepared for very effective music by composer Sarah Schachner.
"The Lazarus Effect" --- so named after the "Lazarus Phenomenon" --- wherein dozens of documented cases of people, presumed dead, have come back to life --- presumes that humans use only 10% of their brain at any given time. Eventually, humans may use all of their brain capacity, says the film, just not at the same time. So when Frank injects his specimens with a special serum, combined with the brain's natural concentration of the chemical DMT, the potential for increased brain activity is exponential. Just ask Rocky.
"The Lazarus Effect" is not a budget-buster for its studio --- virtually all of the action takes place in the Lazarus Project Lab. It's still a reasonably effective thriller, just not in the class of other horror films like "The Ring" or "Paranormal Activity", or even the upcoming "It Follows".
As for Gelb, this outing comes on the heels of his highly praised documentary "Jiro Dreams of Sushi". It's the story of an 85-year-old sushi master, and boasts a score of 99% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Opinion: Wait for DVD