The latest effort from Blumhouse Productions is The Lazarus Effect, a supernatural horror movie which stars Olivia Wilde and Mark Duplass as a pair of scientists who work on perfecting a serum that can bring the dead back to life. During one particular experiment, however, Wilde’s character is accidentally electrocuted and dies almost immediately. Struck down with grief, Mark decides to give her the serum. Though it does bring her back to the land of the living, she’s not exactly the same person that she was before her death.
Last week, producer Jason Blum was at the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles, California for The Lazarus Effect press day. While there, I sat down with him for an exclusive interview. We spoke at length about how he wanted to differentiate this film from others like it, if he wants to make a sequel to The Lazarus Effect, and how having so few locations made the film scarier. Before we wrapped up, he also gave us some updates on Insidious 3 and Paranormal Activity 5.
Check it out below, and enjoy!
When it comes to The Lazarus Effect, the story follows the path of movies like Frankenstein, Re-Animator and even Pet Sematary, where characters are brought back from the dead. In those movies, they are brought back as zombies, but in this one, Olivia Wilde is resurrected as someone who has supernatural powers. Was that one of the things you wanted to make different with this resurrection film?
Jason Blum: That was in the script when I first read it, but it was one of the things I really appreciated about the script. It was kind of a new take on resurrection. It was attractive to Olivia as well. She got to do this slow transformation from everything’s all right to everything’s less than all right (laughs).
Speaking of Olivia Wilde, she’s terrific here. She always brings a strong intelligence to each role she takes on.
Jason Blum: I think so, too. She got really into it. She’s a great actress. I love working with her and I hope we get to work with her again.
Were there any other plot devices you wanted The Lazarus Effect to have that other resurrection movies haven’t had?
Jason Blum: I wanted it to feel current. The dialogue, the banter between the characters, I always look at that and ask, does it feel grounded? Does it feel real? Does it feel like this is what people would actually say to themselves in this situation? I feel like David (Gelb) did a very good job with making me answer all those questions. We do as much as we can to make you forget you’re watching a movie, and I think that’s what makes good movies.
Mark’s character is pushing the boundaries of science, but he’s very much down to earth. He’s just breaking the rules, like any other scientist would.
Jason Blum: Totally, totally, totally. He’s not what you’d think a scientist would be like, which I think is kind of great.
All of the crew members who worked on The Lazarus Effect have worked on other productions of yours, like Jessabelle, Oculus and The Purge, among others. Is it important that you have the same people working with you on each movie you do?
Jason Blum: Yeah, I like working with the same people. That’s not to say every so often there’s not a new person introduced, and of course, I like meeting new people, but we have a great group of people. They don’t do every movie, but they do a lot of movies with us, and when we have a good experience with someone, it’s very important to keep them in the family.
There are several moments in The Lazarus Effect where the characters are tempting fate, like when Evan Peters blows smoke in the dog’s face. On one hand, you think that the characters are idiots when they do something so clearly foolish and that they are just asking to die. On the other hand, though, it adds a strong level of tension to the proceedings. Is it important to have scenes like that in a movie?
Jason Blum: I think if they feel organic to the action it’s important. I think it’s important in horror movies to have moments of lightness. If you just have 90 minutes of straight darkness or straight drama without any kind of levity, it’s exhausting and it’s not fun. We’re doing M. Night Shyamalan’s new movie which is called The Visit, and there’s a lot of levity to it. There’s a lot of levity in Insidious, there’s a lot in Paranormal Activity 3 in particular, and I think horror movies are more effective when there’s places to rest and breathe and laugh. It gives your body a second to recalibrate to get scared again.