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'The Lazarus Effect' is a cheap horror flick
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Evan Peters, left, and Donald Glover star in Relativity Media's "The Lazarus Effect. - photo by Doug Wright
"The Lazarus Effect," rated PG-13 2 stars

When I got the general drift of the plot of the film The Lazarus Effect, I thought we might be in for a compelling little movie kind of like Flatliners years ago with Julia Roberts and Kiefer Sutherland. But instead of delivering a respectable little thriller, "The Lazarus Effect" turns into a cheap horror flick.

A group of researchers working on grants in a university setting are trying to develop a serum that can accommodate extension of viability for people in comas or severe trauma. Mark Duplass stars as Frank, who leads this team along with his fiance, Zoe, played by Olivia Wilde. Theyre a brilliant but ragtag group that ends up stretching their mission a bit by testing the serum on dead animals with the intent of bringing them back to life.

The Eureka! moment comes when they inject the serum and apply serious voltage to a deceased canine named Rocky. Just as in the old Frankenstein movies, the effort seems a failure.

Suddenly, Rocky bolts to life. But something isnt quite right. The serum is supposed to dissipate but doesnt, and good old Rockys brain activity is off the charts, causing one of the team members to remark, He could go Cujo any time!

Thats not good.

It seems the teams efforts have above and beyond regular reports been surreptitiously monitored by the school. When the successes are noted by a greedy corporation, they point out that because the team has violated the mandate of the research grant by bringing animals to life, they are being dismissed and the corporation now has total ownership and claim on all their work.

So the team sneaks back into the lab so they can document their work and prove they are the ones responsible for the breakthroughs. But something goes terribly wrong and when the experiment goes forward, Zoe ends up dead. What to do? Of course, she goes on the operating table and the team brings her back to life.

And talk about going Cujo.

The Lazarus Effect is loaded with gotcha and stereotypical moments like, ah shucks, the experiment didnt work, and then something jumps to life or eerily arises. Really, this is the best youve got?

Plus, weve got a weird subplot going on about a horrifying moment in Zoes past. Shes haunted by terrible dreams, and this is blended into everybodys nightmare that unfolds in the lab. Its confusing and simply doesnt work.

This could have been a good little thriller/horror flick.