Movie Review: The Lazarus Effect (2015)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 2015 thriller starring Olivia Wilde and Mark Duplass.

Synopsis: A team of researchers develop a serum that can bring the dead back to life. During an attempt to recreate the results of their first trial, one of the researchers is accidentally electrocuted and her boyfriend decides to use the serum to bring her back. However, she immediately begins to show unexpected side effects.


Our regular Wednesday night shows had a week off because of the Thanksgiving holiday so my wife and I decided to take advantage of last night's break and watch a movie instead. I had added "The Lazarus Effect" to my Netflix list a couple weeks ago and, since we were in the mood for a thriller, we picked that one. After seeing it, my opinion of it was mixed.

We are both Olivia Wilde fans and I personally thought she did an excellent job in this movie. She started out as a likable person and, after her character dies and is brought back to life, her personality change is pretty obvious. I especially liked how her transition was gradual, rather than instant, because, at least for a while, it did leave out some hope that there was a way of saving her.

My biggest problem with this movie is it is very predictable. Part of the reason for this is because the film pretty much gives you a preview of what is going to happen by having the characters bring a dog back to life and showing us the ill effects of the serum on that animal. Once the Lazarus Serum was used on Wilde's character, it was pretty obvious what would happen next, especially since I have yet to see a movie that shows the positive effects of playing God. As I have said countless times before, predictable movies just aren't scary.

I also was a little disappointed by the short run time (the movie is only 83 minutes long) because I feel this movie could have benefited from a little more fleshing out, perhaps by showing us more of their research/failures leading up to the discovery or giving us a little more detail about the pharmacy company that tries to steal their serum and their intentions. The shorter film still manages to cover the basics. But, there were times when it did seem like it was a bit rushed and, because of that, was missing something.

Final Opinion

As I mentioned, Olivia Wilde does an excellent job as the Lazarus Serum's first human trial. However, the movie itself was just OK. There really isn't anything about it that makes it particularly memorable.

My Grade: C

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Updated: 12/20/2016, StevenHelmer
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