If someone tried to put together a Reviving Dead People film festival, there wouldn’t be enough films in the genre to actually call it a festival. There’s “Frankenstein” (the feat was accomplished via electricity), “Pet Sematary” (overnight burial in sacred Indian ground) and “Flatliners” (everyone was simply resuscitated, without much explanation).

Hold on, we’ve got a new entry. In “The Lazarus Effect,” a team of scientists (OK, two scientists, two assistants and a videographer) are working under false pretenses at a California college to figure out how to bring the dead back to life. They’re not crazy enough to deal with humans, so they experiment on dead pigs or dead dogs.

Their method: inject some Lazarus serum into the temporal lobe of the brain, which will pump up the hallucinatory effect of the body’s natural supply of DMT, thereby reigniting the spark of life.

I just re-read that last sentence, and it still sounds as silly as it did (with a bit more psycho-babble terminology thrown in) while I was watching the movie.

This is a ridiculous science fiction-horror film that introduces people with good intentions who don’t know what they’re getting into, who then lose control of the situation, and don’t know how to get out of what they got into.

Frank and Zoe (Mark Duplass and Olivia Wilde) are the research couple who have put off their wedding in order to see this grant-funded project through. Clay (Evan Peters) is one of their young assistants, who is bright but probably smokes too much pot (can you really smoke pot in an e-cigarette?). Niko (Donald Glover) is the other assistant, also bright, who has a crush on Zoe. Eva (Sarah Bolger) is documenting the experiment on video. She has no aptitude for science.

Rocky the dog has been put down by his owners because he has cataracts (could someone please get P.E.T.A. on the line?). He’s injected, he comes to life, but he’s kind of lethargic, not even interested in kibble. Wait! Check it out! His cataracts are gone. Wait! Look out! He’s growling and snarling and ready to attack. He’s gotten – what’s that word? – aggressive!

But let’s just go with some of the actual script.

Frank: “What we’re doing here could be considered questionable.”

Clay: “There’s something seriously wrong with that animal.”

Back to words about, not from, the movie. The great Ray Wise (Leland Palmer in “Twin Peaks”) makes a 30-second cameo as the head of a money-grubbing pharma company who, with a gang of goons, bursts in on our heroes’ experiments, and grabs all of their results (except the dog), leaving them back at square one after three years of work. Frank and Zoe’s immediate response: We’ve hidden a little bit of that serum, just in case something like this happens. Let’s duplicate the experiment, but let’s duplicate it quickly. So quickly that accidents will happen.

This is the point where I’d usually capitalize the words SPOILER ALERT, and then reveal that Zoe is accidentally electrocuted when she throws a switch but forgets to first take off her engagement ring (is that actually scientific?). But you already knew this was a movie about bringing the dead back to life, and you didn’t really think it was going to stop with dogs. So Frank makes the obvious science fiction-horror film decision, and decides to inject her.

Clay: “But what if she comes back all messed up, like the dog?”

Niko (after Zoe wakes up): “There’s too much neural activity!”

Not only that, she now can also read minds and move objects, and her skin is turning black.

Zoe: “I think something is wrong. I’m changing.”

Frank (at least I think it was Frank): “Her brain is doing things the human brain was never designed to do.”

Frank (definitely Frank): “This is all my fault. I’m gonna make it better.”

Things go from bad to worse to much worse. The budget for the film is so low, everything bad happens when there are short circuits in the lab and the lights go out. Zoe becomes a monster. A solution is found and acted upon, but then the script writers change their minds and make it all go wrong again.

There are some pretty good actors here, but they’re dealing with shoddy directing and a dumb script, a script that has the gall to leave things in sequel mode. Never gonna happen.

THE LAZARUS EFFECT
Written by Luke Dawson and Jeremy Slater; directed by David Gelb
With Mark Duplass, Olivia Wilde, Evan Peters, Sarah Bolger, Donald Glover
Rated PG-13