Posts Tagged ‘Oculus’

THE LAZARUS EFFECT: 2 STARS. “crams a lot into its scant running time.”

Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 4.46.49 PM“The Lazarus Effect,” a new low-budget thriller starring Olivia Wilde and Mark Duplass, is about giving people a second chance. A new serum formulated by a group of young, good-looking geniuses prolongs the time after death that doctors can continue to safely try and revive patients. But, as always, when you trifle with the natural order of things there are unexpected consequences. “If we are going to be asking big questions we have to be ready for the answers,” says Zoe (Wilde), who, as it turns out, wasn’t as prepared for the answers as she thought.

Liberally borrowing from “Frankenstein’s” playing God cautionary tale, “The Lazarus Effect” sees researchers Zoe, Frank (Duplass) and Niko (Donald Glover) create a formula that defies death, bringing deceased animals back to life. (“What if we ripped him from doggie heaven?” wonders Zoe, weighing the ethics of reviving the dearly departed.) The mutts come back a little more ornery than they were the first time they were alive, but a trial run or two are successful enough that big pharma swoops in and steals their idea. In a last ditch attempt to prove their ownership over the serum they secretly do one final test but when the experiment goes awry they are forced to do an unscheduled human run with horrifying results. For such smart people they sure do a lot of stupid things.

“The Lazarus Effect” is the latest shocker from Blumhouse Productions, the folks responsible for the low-fi thrills of “Paranormal Activity,” “Sinister” and “Oculus.” They value atmosphere over actual horror, using shadows and jump scares to get pulses racing. Sometimes it’s very effective—“Insidious” leaves viewers with an icky unease that’s hard to shake—but just as often they fall flat.

“The Lazarus Effect,” clocking in at an economical 75 minutes, crams a lot into its scant running time, but fails to fully develop any of its ideas. It’s alive with Frankenstein references, but where old Frankenstein lumbered around, mostly meaning well when he wasn’t throwing little girls into lakes and being menaced by angry villagers, the recently deceased here flits around maniacally. They (THERE WILL BE NO SPOILERS HERE) have high brain activity, can read minds and move things telepathically, which you’d think would be pretty cool, but their new talents only appear to make them angry. Combine that with an undeveloped religion vs. science subplot that finds our undead reliving the most traumatic moment of their lives over and over again and you’re left with bits and pieces of a story that are never stitched together to form a whole.

“The Lazarus Effect” has some corny lines—“Did I just die?”—a few unintentionally funny moments—the human comes back to life covered in a white sheet, like a kid’s ghost costume—and atmosphere to burn. What it doesn’t have is the sense of fun necessary to pull off the cheesy moments or the scares to sell it as a full-blown horror story.

Richard’s weekend movie reviews from CP24! Friday April 11, 2014.

Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 3.59.42 PMRichard’s movie reviews with CP24’s Rena Heer. They talk about “Draft Day” with Kevin Costner, Jude Law in “Dom Hemingway” and the haunted mirror movie “Oculus.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!

Richard’s CTV NewsChannel reviews with Jacqueline Milczarek.

Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 3.47.41 PMFilm Critic Richard Crouse takes a look at Kevin Costner’s performance in ‘Draft Day’, and Jude Law’s role as a gangster in ‘Dom Hemingway’.

Watch the whole thing HERE!



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OCULUS: 3 ½ STARS. “makes a creepy case for demonic interference.”

M-048_OCU_03163rv1_rgbTrying to prove that someone was possessed by the devil when they did a bad thing is the kind of thing that generally only people in the movies do, and often not very convincingly. But a new film, Oculus, makes a creepy case for demonic interference even though the evidence is slight.

The story begins in present day with Tim (Brenton Thwaites) being released from a twelve-year stretch in a mental institution. The twenty-one-year-old was locked away at age nine after he gunned down his father (Rory Cochrane) who had just murdered his mother (Katee “Starbuck” Sackhoff).

His sister Kaylie (Karen “Dr. Who” Gillan), now a successful antiques dealer, lets him in on a family secret—she claims dear old dad was possessed by a demonic spirit that lives in a mirror. She has the ornate old looking glass and needs Tim’s help to destroy it.

Working in a tried and true supernatural genre—devil possession movies are a dime a dozen—director Mike Flanagan manages to find a new way to inject some life into the story of a haunted piece of furniture. Weaving together Tim and Kaylie’s past and present into one seamless whole, he flip flops through time, telling the story from the perspectives of the characters at different ages. It adds intensity to a tale that isn’t too far off from the terrible Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes (the story of a ghostly lamp).

The horror elements work because this is a character driven story and while there are blood and guts aplenty it is the intensity of the story and the performances that will stay with you.