Olivia Wilde stars in this supernatural thriller about a team of college students and their professor dabbling in scientific experiments that some see as unnatural, or crossing the line – returning recently deceased beings back to life. At first, everything seems like it’s going to plan, but when Olivia’s character suddenly dies, the team is forced to make a moral decision that ultimately results in horrific, gruesome consequences.
This movie plays out about how you would expect it to, with all of the cliches and jump scares included. Scenes where someone is ducking down and the camera slowly pans up always reveal something hiding and waiting at the top of the frame. If you find yourself thinking, “there’s probably something around that corner, but no, that would be too obvious,” you will be disappointed in knowing that yes, there is something around that corner, and looking back in the mirror, and behind the door, and behind the character. This movie unapologetically hinges on obvious scares and throwbacks to worn out plot lines. I haven’t been able to predict scenes this well since I watched “Ouija”, but that’s for another day.
As far as the cast goes, I have to say the choices were… weird. I mean, I understand getting Olivia Wilde as the main character, that’s a no-brainer, but what is the deal with the supposed professor? I don’t know who Mark Duplass is, but his haircut made me want to punch him in the fucking face. He’s a middle-aged man with a Justin Bieber haircut, assumingly to appeal to younger audiences, but it just ends up being creepy and strange and I want to physically hurt his face. The remaining cast consists of teenage cliche’s, (the cute, quiet one, the wacky comedic relief, and the token black guy). Their names aren’t important and their characters don’t influence the plot enough to matter, so we’ll skip over most of them. For now, I want to talk about the plot.
All right, I can kind of see where the director wanted this to go, but it just ends up being awkward and out of place. So, the token black guy played by Donald Glover, who is a rapper apparently, seems to have some sort of crush on Olivia Wilde even though she’s in a relationship with the professor. It’s not mutually felt by Olivia, but there’s this awkward scene where he starts asking her inappropriate questions about her relationship and she gets uncomfortable. From what I saw, his character isn’t creepy or anything in any other part of the movie, just in this scene with his teacher. It’s referenced later on when Olivia goes psycho and tries to manipulate him, but he dies seconds later so it doesn’t really matter. In fact, the whole underlying plot of this infatuation between Donald and his teacher could have been left out entirely and not affected a single scene. It doesn’t make any sense unless there are some deleted scenes I don’t know about, and if that’s the case, then they should have left out this plot line entirely.
Having Olivia come back from the dead and start killing people would have been sufficient in any other horror movie without question by anyone, but apparently not this film. Instead, we get a weird, seemingly hastily thrown together story of how Olivia burned down the apartment she used to live in when she was like seven and her neighbors were killed. This somehow results in other students on the team having dreams for no reason about the events when Olivia was young. From what I could gather, when Olivia dies in the film, she goes to hell for years and years which only seem like moments to everyone else. But wait, there’s more! She doesn’t just return from the dead; she returns from the dead with invulnerability and telekinesis. Yeah, apparently the Lazarus serum turns people into Phoenix from X-Men.
So, weird casting, predictable scary scenes and odd plot lines aside, was this actually a good horror movie? I mean, is it something worth watching and does it fulfill its duty to scare, gross-out or induce suspense? Well, no. I’m afraid not. Considering how stupidly powerful they made Olivia, she’s able to kill everyone else fairly quickly, and since 90% of the movie takes place in the same lab, she’s able to do so without having to really chase anyone down. The ending comes across equally sloppy, as we see a fireman come running down the hall to check on the last living student, but it turns out to be Olivia. End of film. Cut to black. Why? Can I just ask why? If Olivia possess the power to, I don’t know, turn into other people, why go through the effort of becoming a fireman and pretending to check on the last student? It’s not like the student was in a position to do anything, I mean, she was crying and sitting on the floor. It doesn’t make any sense. It’s like they didn’t know how to end the movie and just did the first thing that came to mind. Actually, the entire movie kind of feels that way. What a disappointment.