I'm still not entirely sure how I feel about The Lazarus Effect. Usually when I have a struggle like this over the quality of a film, it is an internal conflict between a strong concept with poor execution. I can't disagree with this conclusion, due in large part to the somewhat clumsy script with un-ignorable holes. Yet, the film was redeemable in most other facets, so can't be completely dismissed.
The casting was pretty good. It featured a well-rounded group of characters that gave it a moral and comical balance set in a lab environment akin to Hollow Man or Deep Blue Sea. The evidently lower budget was however more constrictive on the expansion of this setting. This added to the claustrophobic tension, but also led to inexplicable character decisions and weak plot coincidences. These plot devices come across as lazy or forced to push the story along. You furrow your brow in disbelief at the logic, but quickly move on as the characters do.
The plot itself of the supernatural consequences of bringing someone back to life are interesting, but not explained in a capacity that made it feel complete. It is difficult with the perspective this film took to be able to explain the happenings of such events fully without coming across as overly assumptive or illogically predictive. So while I can conclude that the film's "can't explain it any more than the characters can solve it" take should be enough, it doesn't feel like it is.
The concept of Olivia Wilde's trip to Hell and back and the destructively powerful effects it had on her brain chemistry and psyche reminds one of so many films combined into a single concept. It was like the Hellish transcendence of Event Horizon, with the mental capacity of Lucy, and the dark moral compass of What Dreams May Come all rolled into one. But unlike those movies, which have the luxury of focusing on their own intentions, The Lazarus Effect more-so paints the intitial layer and expects you to brush out the rest of the strokes with your own theoretical knowledge base.
In this case it worked out fine. You're able to summize the events and reach your own conclusions amid the suspenseful action unfolding. Sadly, the action never deviates from the norm and we are left with a film that stands more firmly on the grounds of its respectable acting and character drama than its horror elements.
The consequential-moral ambiguity that is present in the film leaves more questions than answers. How is it the resurrected dog exhibits the foreshadowing of our murderous female lead without the moral ground from which to stand? Am I not giving enough credit to the cerebral science they regularly discuss in the film? These questions aren't necessarily flaws in the film, but perhaps evidence of my own unappreciation of the small details. If the film had exhibited a stronger approach and perhaps escaped the ordinary suspense platitudes, I would have been more willing to pursue such inquiries. But my attention, while held, was limited to a superficial level of intellectual thought because the film's action was not a catalyst for it once we reach the final act. I almost lost interest the more "horror" that became prominent. I'd like to consider that a flaw in the attempts at horror, but perhaps I am being too harsh.
Horror Qualifier: 6/10
Horror Quality: 4/10
Film Quality: 4/10