The Lazarus Effect

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
The Lazarus Effect Movie Poster Image
Talent wasted in scary but cliché resurrection tale.
  • PG-13
  • 2015
  • 83 minutes

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 8 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Basically the same theme as that of literary classics Frankenstein and The Monkey's Paw: Man shouldn't play God, trying to take control over life and death. There will be consequences.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Though the characters are presumably smart, inventive med students, they pretty much end up as monster bait.


Lots of scary stuff. Dead animals on an operating table, suddenly jumping to life. Nightmare sequences about a burning building. Needles, a heart Defibrillator, and other creepy operating room stuff. Jump-shocks. Characters die in gruesome ways. Blood is shown.


A loving couple kisses. The woman also kisses another man. A discussion about dental dams.


"S--t" used several times, plus "ass," "d--k," "bitch," and "hell."


The game World of Warcraft is shown.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A character smokes an electronic cigarette, even though others ask him not to. (He pays the price.) Characters drink wine at home, champagne for a celebration.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Lazarus Effect is a horror thriller about a group of medical students who resurrect a dead woman, with unexpected results. There's lots of scary stuff and plenty of jump-shocks, plus blood, deaths, and some creepy hospital-type stuff (i.e. needles). Dead animals are shown and experimented on. Language isn't frequent but includes a few uses of "s--t" and other words. Two characters are a couple and are seen kissing, cuddling, etc. The female lead also briefly kisses another man, and there's a discussion about dental dams. One character smokes an electronic cigarette, to the others' annoyance, and there's some wine and champagne drinking. The movie has the same "don't play God" themes as classics like Frankenstein and The Monkey's Paw and could spur discussions about life and death.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byRaritysfans January 10, 2021

Live Forever

No Blockbuster epic like Big Hero 6, but some classic test lab horror made in nearly an hour when Found Footage streaming was the king in mid 2010s. The typical... Continue reading
Adult Written byjkauto March 11, 2015

No oscar winner but still fun to watch

This is standard horror movie fare- jump scenes, crescendos, possession- the works. A lot of it could be categorized as "formulaic", although it is qu... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old March 8, 2015

The Lazarus Effect

It is a pretty scary movie, honestly. I remember jumping about 5 or 6 times in this movie and screaming once. It is about a girl who gets electrocuted while d... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byMr. beaner October 31, 2019

Very good creepy thriller

This movie was terrifying. Lots of jump scares, some violence but not to much. If your kid is easily scared do not let them watch this movie. Very interesting p... Continue reading

What's the story?

While working on a way to extend the window of time between when a person's body dies and when their brain actually dies, med students Frank (Mark Duplass) and Zoe (Olivia Wilde) develop a serum that can actually resurrect the dead. Their first experiment, with a dog, goes fairly well, albeit with some strange side effects. After a loophole in a grant causes their lab to be shut down, they decide to run an undercover experiment at night to re-create their lost data. But during the experiment, Zoe is electrocuted and dies. Frank decides to use their process to bring her back, but what actually returns is something entirely unexpected.

Is it any good?

The movie is a terrible recycling of old ideas, ranging from classics like Frankenstein and The Monkey's Paw to 2014's Lucy, not to mention the routine effects and jump-scares. The filmmakers might have used these things in fresh ways, but they don't bother. Rather, the movie anxiously, recklessly rushes through its plot toward the climax, as if it's afraid of anyone noticing its emptiness. Zoe doesn't even get a chance to adapt to her new condition or to ruminate on what she's been through. She goes from 0 to 60, from sweetheart to an evil monster with total control of her powers. What a waste of talent.

THE LAZARUS EFFECT barely avoids being yet another found-footage horror movie, even though it has a documentary filmmaker character (Sarah Bolger) filming everything, and security cameras are everywhere. That was a wise move, as was casting decent, reliable actors like Bolger, Duplass, Wilde, Donald Glover, and Evan Peters. But the next question becomes: What were they doing here?

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether The Lazarus Effect is scary. What were the scariest parts? Why? What makes something a horror movie rather than a thriller? Which genre would you say this one is?

  • Why does the movie have a documentary filmmaker recording everything? Why do the characters need things recorded?

  • How violent is the movie? How did the violence affect you?

  • The movie touches on some deep themes about life and death and what happens to the human body. What do you believe?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love thrills

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate