Movie review: The Lazarus Effect is a worse horror film than usual

Review/Horror/THE LAZARUS EFFECT (PG13)/83 minutes/Opens tomorrow/**

The story: Frank (Mark Duplass) and his fiancee Zoe (Olivia Wilde) are scientists cooking up a serum that can prolong a coma long enough for doctors to revive patients. With team members Clay (Evan Peters) and Niko (Donald Glover) and videographer Eva (Sarah Bolger), they find through an experiment on a dog that they have stumbled on the formula for reviving the dead. When Zoe is killed in an accident, she is brought back, with horrific consequences.

Look up Blumhouse Productions online. You will see that this year alone, the indie firm that brought you The Purge (2013) and the Paranormal Activity franchise films will produce a staggering 17 films, including Sinister 2 and Insidious: Chapter 3.

But the company founded on the viral success of Paranormal Activity also put money in the Oscar-nominated Whiplash (2014) and a couple of other critically acclaimed works.

Sadly, The Lazarus Effect is not one of them. This is run-of-the-mill Blumhouse shlock. Actually, this is even worse than ordinary.

The Purge at least worked on a new, if ludicrous, premise (that for one night a year, all laws are suspended).

This work regurgitates ideas from any number of haunted-house and Frankenstein movies, with Carrie (1976) thrown in at the end, but all sanitised of real scares for the sake of the PG13 label.

It is as if first-time fiction feature director David Gelb studied the Blumhouse formula and is applying it here with earnest determination and without any sense of fun or creativity.

So moviegoers get awful, on-the-nose dialogue: "You are playing God with dead animals!" and "We ripped him out of doggie heaven - and he didn't want to come back."

All these lines are, of course, intoned with inappropriate gravitas, driven by a loud soundtrack and a good number of jump scares.

Released last month in the United States, this comatose creation has done lively business at the box office, proving that when it comes to flogging dead horses (or dogs), Blumhouse is the expert.

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