Friday, February 27, 2015

The Lazarus Effect


Starring: Mark Duplass, Olivia Wilde, Sarah Bolger, Evan Peters, Donald Glover

Rated PG-13 for Intense Sequences of Horror Violence, Terror and Some Sexual References

How bad is this movie?  In addition to having the usual problems of bad horror movies (bad acting and characterization, bad pacing, an incoherent plot and supposedly smart characters doing stupid things), it's so badly made that it took until the climax that I realized the set-up was over.

"The Lazarus Project" is like "Splice" and "Hollow Man."  It's a movie where a group of brilliant (at least that's what we're told, but evidence clearly suggests otherwise) scientists push the boundaries of science and pay the price.  Both of the earlier movies had their problems, but they were entertaining.  Not so with "The Lazarus Project," which is just stupid.

Frank (Duplass) and Zoe (Wilde) are two scientists trying to find a way to keep people alive for longer.  Meaning, if you've been shot up like 50 Cent and your heart has stopped, they want to be able to keep you alive for longer so the doctors can fix you up and you can show off the bullet wounds to your fans.  They've done it with a dog, but despite the warnings of one of their crew, a pothead named Clay (Peters), they keep it alive.  Circumstances, which I will not reveal, will force them to do a quick test and Zoe ends up dead.  Frank, who has been engaged to marry her for years, is determined to use this new science to bring her back.  It works, but as CCH Pounder once said (paraphrased of course), "There's something wrong with Zoe."

I've seen her in a few movies, and I have yet to be convinced that Olivia Wilde has much talent as an actress.  Sure she's cute, but her range is at best limited.  She's solid in the opening scenes, when she's playing a normal individual, but when things go wrong, she goes over-the-top.  Mumblecore mainstay Jay Duplass is just boring.  I haven't seen a horror movie character this dull in a long time.  Sarah Bolger (playing the obligatory newbie hired to record their success at playing God) is even worse.  She's over-the-top shrill to the point where I was actively wishing for her to die.  Evan Peters is wasted while Donald Glover while Donald Glover gives Jay Duplass a run for his money in the "most boring individual on the face of the Earth" category.

The film was directed by David Gelb.  He directed the documentary smash "Jiro Dreams of Sushi."  I haven't seen it, but I've heard good things.  Considering the result, my guess is that studio executives picked an arthouse director at random and forced him to become a hired gun.  Either that, or he should stick to documentaries.  He hasn't the slightest clue about what makes a horror film work.  Plotholes abound, the pacing is erratic, and the plot is all over the map.  The best thing I can say is that he knows how to create a decent jump scene.

Trust me.  Give this one a pass.  Some things are better left off dead.

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