Release Date: February 27, 2015
Director: David Gelb
Writer: Luke Dawson, Jeremy Slater
Cast: Mark Duplass, Olivia Wilde, Sarah Bolger, Evan Peters, Donald Glover, Ray Wise, Scott Sheldon, Emily Kelavos, James Earl, Amy Aquino, Sean T. Krishnan, Ator Tamras, Cato
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 83 minutes
Production Company: Blumhouse Productions, Chapter One Films, Lionsgate, Mosaic Media Group
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Everyone has asked the question, “What if you could bring someone back from the dead?” It’s a fascinating concept, but one of the scariest ideas around. If it were possible, would you really want to go down that road? Where would you draw the line? What type of world would we live in today if we could resurrect the deceased?
Losing a loved one can be one of the most disastrous terrors one can imagine. Despite this, I personally don’t think resurrection is a good idea, but my opinion is one among many. It can be fun to play around with the idea in a fictional word, and that’s what Blumhouse Productions attempts to do. The key word here is “attempts”. Not only does the studio fail to deliver a quality horror movie, the effort put into the film is embarrassing, and is a cop out that fails to make the concept even interesting.
The only positive thing I can see here is the idea implanted in the audiences’ heads of what the white light when one is facing death really means. Some say it’s euphoria, others say it’s your life flashing before your eyes, or else a symbol that you’re going to a better place. No one really knows. So the way the film handles this mystery, through the perspectives of religion and science, makes it appear that contrasting two opinions would resurrect a healthy debate. The debate is soon forgotten and is replaced with poor attempts at horror.
What do I mean exactly? The film should’ve been called Jump Scares 9, because that’s all the film contains. I’m not a horror fan by far, and I’m always covering my face when necessary. Not only are jump scares a cheap trick and a smoke screen to anything fulfilling, but if they don’t send a chill down your spine, the film is wasting its time.
The film is based on the idea of one person with whom nobody has any connection. That universally known idea of going to hell and coming back is completely overlooked, and death is interpreted as one single individual’s personal experience. How can the audience relate to this at all? It’s impossible. Even if they don’t believe in hell, anyone can say their idea of going to hell has to do with the devil. You can spend a lifetime searching for that idea in The Lazurus Effect and never find it. It’s not polite to mislead the public just to get them to buy tickets.
The unfortunate thing is that the cast is great, with a number of known actors, but their talent is wasted on a poor script. There’s only one character I cared about, but of course he’s killed off too soon, and we’re left with nothing engaging. Everyone else is paper-thin and shoehorned to serve a plot that doesn’t make any sense in the first place. These placeholders are supposed to feel natural and not forced.
Storyboarding an entire film without giving it life is a horrible idea. You may say it’s feasible with a three-million-dollar budget, but why not try to knock things out the park when you have the chance? I guess the producers don’t have that in mind. Cheap movie, cheap attempt, is the mindset here, and I wish I had my hour and 28 minutes back.
It breaks my heart that the material was treated this way. All we’re left with is close-up shots of actors, with abrupt cuts to images designed to be scary and want-to-be-daunting sound effects trying to create suspense. All one can ask is, “Are they serious?” There’s neither weight nor substance to the film, and it feels like they’re scared to take a religious approach. If this is the case, that’s perfectly fine. But don’t tease an idea and not go all in. Just skimming the surface pleases no one, and is frustrating at the finish line. Go all the way in with your idea to possibly create something new – not just a childhood memory of one person that continuously haunts them and consumes their life. If this is their interpretation of hell, I want no part of it!