What I'm Watching: The Lazarus Effect
It has been a LONG time since I've gotten out to see a movie in the theatres. In fact, this is my first foray out in 2015.
And the Lazarus Effect seemed liked a good choice to go with, and to be honest, it more or less delivered.
The plot is simple. A group of pretty people scientists are working on a serum that will prolong the brain function of braindead patients, giving doctors more time to do whatever they can to save the life laying on their table.
They have an early success with a dog, things then go horribly wrong when one of the scientists dies, and her fiance decides that he needs to use the Lazarus serum to bring her back to life.
Aaand then things go horribly wrong.
If you're thinking Flatliners, yep! There are similarities. But I'm gonna play fair, and since since it has been FOREVER since I've seen Flatliners, I won't outright compare the two, besides pointing out the base similarity right here.
Once Olivia Wilde is brought back to life, she's Not Quite Right, as these things usually go, and there's either a growing darkness within her, or evolving mental powers, or both.
And yes, they do that bloody canard of "We only use 10% of the brain!" but at least they explain it a bit better and in a way that actually makes the statement mostly work. Still, I've seen that statement twice in just this year, and people really REALLY need to stop using it. Based on that, you can assume the science here is very dodgy. But we're not really here for the science are we? Still, a hard SF horror movie would rock, but I digress.
Once Wilde comes back from the dead, and her mind powers start expanding, the plot is pretty much on a rocketing collision course to its ending, and the ride is quite good from there. Wilde is having fun playing the baddie, but she's also built up sympathy through the first half of the film, and she has some slight struggle going on behind her eyes
There was also some good discussion about religion, as is to be expected in movies like this. Can't bring people back from the dead without playing god discussions appearing. Also the debate on whether Wilde's powers are mystical or a new evolution from whatever they've done. Far from necessary things to do and discuss, but I appreciate the additions.
The biggest problem with this flick is that, um, it doesn't really have any *proper* scares. There's no big scary moments from Wilde's malevolent force, outside of the occasional appearance and screaming at the camera, and that just doesn't quite work. The rest of the actual scares are provided by various members of the Science Team sneaking up on people and basically going "BOO!" Yep, cheap jump scares by people playing pranks. Those quickly stop once the real danger rears her head, and then its just a massacre. When the biggest scares in your horror movie are provided by literal jump scares, I think there's a slight problem. There is still plenty of thrills and suspense at least. You can get into watching Wilde tear through the cast wondering who's next, how they're gonna go, but there's no real fear in this.
The other big problem is this tacked on corporate storyline with some company trying to scam their way into stealing the Lazarus serum through contract trickiness. It really doesn't do anything to forward the plot, and is just there to provide some cheap character drama about Who Betrayed The Team and Told the Corporate Overlords We Were Playing God?? (Answer: NO ONE. The folks from Cyclonus or Crylonus or whatever just were using their access to security cameras. Anticlimax!) Aside from that, all it does is drive them to be desperate to perform more experiments before all their stuff is taken away, and Olivia gets killed. Which is at least SOMEthing, but could have been done without the business contract BS. The upside of the whole Crylonus subplot is that it brought in Ray Wise for an all too brief moment.
While the movie's far from perfect, it was entertaining, and it ended on such a note that I actually kinda NEEEED to see a sequel, just to know what happens next. And no, I ain't spoling that. The movie has its flaws, it has some cheap moments, but the cast is actually pretty fun, if not GREAT, and Wilde is fun to watch struggling with her powers, and just what her whole story is, is a decent enough mystery. And at 80 minutes, you can forgive it a few flaws, and its just about the right length to get away with some dodgy science.
Not the best, but it's a decent enough popcorn flick.
And with a girl dying, coming back to life, with brand new and dangerous telekinetic and telepathic powers, with a HUGE heaping helping of fire...this is a far, far better Phoenix story than X-Men 3 was.