Earlier in the week, I got bored enough one evening to find time to watch two science fiction/horror movies that were released earlier this year. Both The Lazarus Effect and Area 51 piqued my interest when their first trailers were released, but not enough for me to rush to theaters on their opening weekends. And after viewing both movies, I am grateful I saved my money and saw them both for free…
In short, The Lazarus Effect, which stars the gorgeous Olivia Wilde, reminds me of Pet Semetary with the Native American burial ground replaced by a serum developed in a lab. Also, instead of a simple murderous reanimated corpse with some traces of their former personality, you get a more lethargic being with heightened mental abilities which include telepathy, telekinesis, dimensional shifting, and casting illusions, all courtesy of Satan himself, I assume. The movie would have probably stood out more if it developed the characters a little more and the concepts of spirituality versus science and personal hells, but due to the length of the feature, I’m assuming it wasn’t in the budget. To make matters worse, there were hardly any scenes that were scary in the least, except for one creepy scene where a reanimated dog escapes his cage and is seen standing on the bed watching Miss Wilde while she sleeps.
The second movie, Area 51, was a little more original but failed me just as much as The Lazarus Effect. Following three guys who decide to break into the titular government facility after one of them has an epiphany (maybe?), or gets abducted briefly (possibly?), or has images beamed into his head (most likely?) at a party, the movie is at least inventive in the way it presents their journey. It is shown in the first-person/found-footage style, which annoys me for most movies with the exception of Chronicle, Cloverfield, and Afflicted, but seems appropriate for this one. The film is actually so believable at some points, it is almost like a real how-to guide on the proper way to infiltrate the actual Area 51. The three friends get leads and maps from a girl whose father has ties to the facility, break into the home of an Area 51 employee to steal his ID, lift fingerprints, and buy some pretty awesome gear, including a signal-jamming device and Freon-filled suits to mask their body heat. They also interact with the usual conspiracy theorists and alien fanboys who lurk around the outside of the facility and live on the campgrounds near it. The movie’s plot seemed to be better executed than The Lazarus Effect, but the characters’ motives weren’t completely clear (if I didn’t clarify my confusion earlier) and due to changing cameras, it was difficult at times to keep up with what was happening. I also have to point out that the first half of the movie, while it made it easier to temporarily suspend disbelief, is rather boring, and at some points the middle and end are pretty lame. Security inside Area 51 seems pretty weak for a place harboring advanced lifeforms and technology. Plus, you don’t even get a good look at any of the aliens that are supposed to be captive in the facility and one of them apparently escapes near the end, causing chaos for the limited staff that is obviously not equipped or trained to fight something from beyond the stars, which causes viewers to question how they could possibly capture and contain them in the first place.
Overall, allowing myself to grow bored enough to watch both of these movies only lead to me wasting about three hours of my life in one sitting. The only positive takeaways from experiencing these movies together is that I have more ideas for how I would NOT write a script should I ever go down the screenwriter’s path and the fact that I was able to warn anyone reading this from making the same mistake.