For time immemorial, humans have sought the one power that has escaped our grasp: to reverse the haunting finality of death. What if exploring the mysterious gap between life and death opens the gateway to lurking evil we never imagined? Could it be that the wondrous possibility of reversing death is actually a path to the darkest corners of the human psyche and the very height of mortal fear?
That is the premise behind “The Lazarus Effect,” the new film from Blumhouse Productions, the producers of such original hit horror franchises as “The Purge,” “Insidious” and “Sinister.” The gripping, thought-provoking thrills begin with a group of renegade medical researchers who believe they may have stumbled on a breakthrough drug that could one day resurrect recently deceased patients. But when a lab accident takes the life of one of their own, they decide to rush into a spontaneous experiment, bringing her back to life in an extraordinary medical triumph . . . and unleashing forces far beyond their comprehension.
In the film, the Lazarus Project Lab has been probing that daring question for a while, with promising results, at least with a dog named Rocky. They could be on the verge of the biotech coup of the century. But even before they have collected the necessary data to proceed, they are forced to dive into the unthinkable: testing their serum not only on a human subject, but their beloved friend. Now, they know they can bring a human being back from clinical death. But what they do not know is where they have brought her back from – and how they are going to survive her wrath.
“The Lazarus Effect is definitely a horror film but there are also elements of a medical thriller and Sci-Fi,” says director David Gelb, who turns from his award-winning documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi to the realm of mounting fear in this new film. Working with an accomplished cast headed by Mark Duplass and Olivia Wilde, Gelb went all in, diving into all the obsessive and often petrifying questions evoked by the prospect of manipulating the most unknowable human reality of all: death.
Wilde was instantly lured by the rare chance to explore the mindset of a female scientist. “It was so fun playing a doctor and a medical researcher who has all these very grand ideas and goals,” she says. “Zoe’s very heady and cerebral, although we also learn she’s repressing quite a bit.” Then there is Zoe’s other side, one that was a thrilling challenge for Wilde. “Once Zoe is brought back, all her darkest fears are manifested. For Wilde, The Lazarus Effect was also an opportunity to further explore the frontiers of brain research, an area she’s been intrigued with all her life. “I’m kind of a neuro nerd,” she admits. “I’m really into all things neurological, I love reading Oliver Sacks’ books, and I’m fascinated by how little we know about the brain. So I loved that one of things this story explores is the idea that the Lazarus serum causes Zoe’s neural pathways to fire at an alarming rate, allowing her to access more of her brain than any person ever has. Usually we only use 10% of our brain at a time, but what if we could use 100% at the same time? What would that be like?”
From Pioneer Films, “The Lazarus Effect” is now showing in cinemas nationwide.