Saturday, January 30, 2016

Review: THE LAZARUS EFFECT (2015) [Joe's Take]

A team of scientists discover they can reanimate dead bodies. Then they discover they shouldn’t!

The first hour or so of The Lazarus Effect delicately sets the stage: There’s Frank, the brilliant team lead who is more interested in his work than his wife. There’s his wife, Zoe, an equally brilliant scientist who is haunted by dreams of a childhood fire. And then there’s Eva, the cute documentarian, Clay, the precocious stoner scientist, and harmless Niko.

Niko yearns for Zoe, Clay and Eva have a spark, and Frank is undermined by an Evil Corporation that threatens to steal his life’s work: the reanimation of dead animals. Together, they've developed a serum that can bring dead things back! They try it on a dog, and it works. But when Zoe is killed in a freak accident, they resurrect her and...


She kills everybody - FAST.

And the deaths are just awful. She throws one guy in a filing cabinet to death, makes another guy swallow an ecigarette to death, and just squeezes her husband's head with her hands. To death.

The Lazarus Effect lacks impact, and at some point the vision for the film must have been lost. It's kind of like if a good movie died, and they tried to bring it back, and it came But like, brushing your teeth with a banana off.

The absurdity is strongest in the two set piece scenes, which happen to mirror each other. The first scene happens with Rocky the undead dog, and the second scene is with Zoe and the gist is:
  • Thing-that-came-back-evil goes crazy
  • It hides 
  • Someone looks for it
  • It does spooky stuff 
  • And then shows itself! 
But in both cases, the climax is off-the-wall.

In the first scene, precocious stoner Clay obnoxiously blows smoke in Rocky the dog's face. In a movie about a bad dog, Clay would be deader than this morning’s newspaper.

Rocky waits for the stoner to predictably begin his World of Warcraft session, then he escapes from confinement with a ‘BANG’!

The kitchen is instantaneously obliterated by Rocky's escape.

But wait, WHERE’S ROCKY?!”

Clay looks for him under this gurney!

But he's not under there...


Clay is frightened!

But wait, the gurney is clear now!

Where is Rocky? Is he over there?


Clay: Ah!

So...Clay puts Rocky back in his cage, and tries to explain the mess to everyone.

Everyone is skeptical.

That’s when Eva drops the bomb: “You guys, these chips were on the top shelf. There’s no way he could’ve gotten to them.”

Look, the evil dog should not be using its powers for what appear to be standard Lays potato chips! He should have burst from Clay's chest like the alien! Or torpedoed straight through him like the Rabbit of Caerbannog. Or at least gotten into the Salt & Vinegar.

In the equivalent scene with Zoe, pretty much everyone is already dead. Frank and Eve hide in a supply closet, and Frank loads up syringes with enough sedative to take out at least two or three Labradors.

Frank gets killed, and it’s down to Eve and some euthanasia drugs, versus Zoe and DEVIL POWERS.

Zoe immediately messes up the lights so they’re all like, flickering, and puts on some manic sounding opera.

Eve is like “Where did this record player even come from??”

Then Zoe uses the old creepy bouncing ball trick. But is she really over there?

Eve is scared, and gets her needle ready!

Hmm, she's not in front of me. I wonder if she's right behind me? Possibly upside down, maybe screaming?



SHORYU- Oh…oh shit! You got me with the drugs! You win. I dieeee....aaagh.

Eve’s like “Oh dude, I won. And here come the firemen to rescue me. Thank goodness.”

And fireman is like “Are you okay, miss?”

And she’s like “I just fought the meanest girl, hold me!

"I'm so glad you're not the psychic undead girl dressed up as a fireman."


And that's it!

Eva thought she won, but Zoe was just putting on her fireman costume to deliver the death blow. Evil undead psychic girl...fireman. You're with it right up until that last part. But once you pass the threshold and put on the fireman's hat, well, there's just no coming back from that.

Joe's Questions for Paul:

1) Would you rather be crushed in a filing cabinet or killed by an ecigarette?

PH: These are really compelling choices.  The filing cabinet is sort of work related, so there might be a potential lawsuit there.  With an e-cigarette, I feel like the whole thing would become a "smoking kills" PSA.  See, if you're killed by an e-cigarette, everyone will think it's somehow your fault, for smoking, in the first place, but also for being so inept (or overzealous) at smoking that you ended up with the cigarette lodged in your throat.  But if you're killed in a filing cabinet, people will just say of you, "man, that guy was a good employee, but the paperwork just crushed him." 
2) Was Zoe really evil? Or did everyone else just immediately start treating her like a freak?

PH:  The problem is when she starts to read everybody's minds.  Look, Zoe was used to being the hot, smart, lovable one.  Niko has it bad for her, and her husband seems really into her as well.  It's not difficult to see why--she's smart, witty, Olivia-Wilde-attractive and, on the whole, super nice.  Can't you imagine her shock and horror when she discovers that she isn't universally loved?  I mean, most of us figure that out in junior high, but let's say that you've gone through your whole life successful and desired, you wouldn't be prepared for that ego destruction.  It's junior high school, but now you've got super powers!  So what I'm saying is: it isn't evil, it's hormones.

3) Why didn't the dog turn bad?

PH:  According to the logic of the film, the dog didn't turn bad because it didn't go to hell like Zoe did.  So maybe it went to doggy heaven?  But it doesn't seem all that good either; it wrecks the kitchen and bogarts the potato chips.  So probably doggy purgatory.  Doggurgatory. 

4) How close is this cast to the cast of Scoobie Doo? And what does that MEAN?

PH:  Let me see.  We have a stoner and a dog.  A white guy and a nerdy girl scientist.  And then another girl with red hair.  But that leaves Niko, who must be . . .who's left?  Scrappy?  That's the whole gang!  Maybe the Zoe-zombie is actually . . . Mr. Wickles!?  And he would have gotten away with it too, if it hadn't been for those meddling kids!

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