After viewing “The Lazarus Effect,” I sat wondering at what I had just seen. I knew the movie was awful; it wasn’t scary. “Scary” is the only criteria I have for judging a horror movie, so the bar isn’t very high. I loved “Ouija”, which made zero sense, but was legitimately frightening and made me jump multiple times. I didn’t jump once during “The Lazarus Effect.” Every scene that did make me almost jump was related to a scary noise or sudden movement that led up to a potential scare that wasn’t scary. Sometimes, what looked like precursors to a good scare (foreboding music, etc.) turned out to be only an unsatisfying tease. I didn’t know what to make of this non-scary horror film. Is it really a horror film when it isn’t scary?
What the makers of this film don’t realize is that having a deathly premise (the ability to bring a human back from the dead), doesn’t mean that the story will automatically be scary to audiences. Making a scary film is an art, and it’s a skill that needs to be honed. This isn’t to say that they made zero effort. Hiring Evan Peters, who has been in all four seasons of “American Horror Story,” to play Clay was a smart move. He is the king of TV horror, so he knows what he’s doing. In fact, all of the actors gave strong performances. It’s just that they didn’t have truly horrifying material to work with. Horror is not the forte of the director or the writers.
Speaking of Evan Peters, this horror failure reminds me of the last season of AHS. The writing was strong in the beginning, went into a decline in the middle, and then suddenly resurrected itself in the end. This movie was similar in that it had an interesting exposition, a middle that was wasted on non-scares and zero character development to make up for it, and then it attempted to resurrect itself with a strong ending. Looking back on it, there is only one point to this film: beginning/end. I can imagine inside my brain the basic outline for this film as it was pitched to a movie studio: “We’ll have a beautiful scientific researcher accidentally killed while trying to find a way to bring dead patients back to life. When other researchers attempt to bring their fallen colleague back from the dead, we’re going to have her resurrected as Medusa so that she do “X” at the end of the film.” That’s a great beginning and end, but there isn’t a whole lot of middle to sustain it.
I can’t recommend this movie at all. Even people who wanted to see it because they thought it would be interesting–not because they wanted to be scared–won’t like it. It’s simply not a good film, and nothing the cast did could bring it to life.