Formulaic movie too similar to past horror flicks

Gavin Gaddis

“The Lazarus Effect” centers around a small group of scientists who are developing the Lazarus drug, a compound that supposedly has the ability to jump start neural activity.

This potentially allows surgeons to bring back a patient who has been clinically dead for several minutes.

While an interesting concept, with some juicy potential for ethical dilemmas and moral debates, the movie boils down to Frank (Mark Duplass) using a smokescreen of how his actions are backed up by facts and science –despite his actions generally being motivated by emotion – while ignored fiancé Zoe (Wilde) wears a crucifix and takes a vaguely spiritual stance on bringing back a dead body.

The formula of Science = Playing God has been used a few times before, and it can be done right, but every time it has been done correctly the creators involved were actually creative.

Creepy dolls, creepy little girls, creepy grown women with long black hair, bodies moving under white sheets. “The Lazarus Effect” recycles it all.

The film has such a formulaic existence that even the audio cannot escape being old hat. A big set-piece of the film that is revisted several times features a hallway with audio of people screaming.

A careful ear will note that the first scream in every shot of this hallway is an incredibly old royalty-free scream that has been used in everything from “Wishbone” to cheap plastic Halloween props.

The film is directed by David Gelb, director of what is arguably one of the best biographical documentaries made in the last 20 years: “Jiro Dreams of Sushi.”

I find myself frustrated by this knowledge, because as a former editor and a person who has seen far too much television, I seriously could not tell the difference between “The Lazarus Effect” and television shows such as “Bones” and “Supernatural.”

Scenes often start with a panning shot over an inanimate object, any non-scary music is generic mixes of melodious notes and low-key electric guitar. Whenever spooks are about, you hear generic violin-plucking and cymbal-clashing music.

At no point is “The Lazarus Effect”legitimately suspenseful. In fact, a good third of the movie’s suspenseful shots are laugh-out-loud hilarious.

“The Lazarus Effect” is an amalgamation of everything modern “horror” thinks is scary, thrown into the perfect package. Pick this up on DVD if you love to commentate on cheesy film.