Picture of Derrick Dunn

Derrick Dunn

Lazareth is a horrific bore

Australian Director Alec Tibaldi navigates to the thriller genre for his third effort in “Lazareth” from Vertical. Tibaldi also pens the film’s screenplay, which stars Emmy and Golden Globe Nominee Ashley Judd. Following the death of their parents, Lee (Judd) adopts her nieces, Imogen (Katie Douglas) and Maeve (Sarah Pidgeon), and raises them in a remote cabin as a deadly pandemic rages on around them. 

For over a decade, the girls have been raised in a remote area in the woods, away from the dangers of the outside world. They have been taught to avoid interacting with outsiders and rely solely on their caretaker, Lee. Lee has convinced the girls that staying isolated in the woods is the only way to survive in the violent and infectious world.

The girls have been trained in self-sufficiency, learning to hunt and forage for food, build shelters, and defend themselves. Lee has instilled in them the importance of following her strict rules and avoiding any contact with the outside world.

However, when the girls stumble upon an injured man named Owen (Asher Angel) in the nearby woods, this discovery challenges everything that Lee has taught them, and the girls’ curiosity and desire for human connection start to grow. As they secretly nurse Owen back to health, they begin to question their isolated existence and the motives of their caretaker.

Lee’s absolute control over the girls begins to crumble as their faith in her and everything they’ve ever known unravels. The girls’ newfound independence and desire for freedom will lead them on a journey of self-discovery, challenging what they’ve been taught and, ultimately, putting their lives at risk.

Even before the success of “A Quiet Place,” the thriller genre about a virus or monsters wiping out humanity was popular among film fans. If you’ve seen one film, you usually know where it will go in the narrative. That said, the execution needs to be tight for the film to stick to its landing, which is something “Lazareth” doesn’t achieve.

Ashley Judd delivers a solid performance despite the weak material, and the makeup department deserves credit for giving her character an authentic look of a woman burdened by the events in her life. I appreciated her introduction in the movie’s opening scene, which establishes her as a character who acts before she thinks. However, things worsen when Owen’s character is introduced, as he doesn’t seem to fit in with the other actresses. The teenage cast members are unimpressive and fail to match Judd’s skill level.

The director may have intended to create a moral tale, but the film fails to establish a clear direction and ultimately falls apart, especially in the third act, where it attempts to turn into an action film. The tagline for the movie is “Lazareth must be protected at all costs.” However, after watching this film, I recommend that thriller fans protect their time at all costs and skip it.

Final Grade: D+

“LAZARETH” is In Select Theaters and On Demand May 10, 2024

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