The Lazarus Project

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This article is about the 2008 film. For the unrelated 2008 novel by Aleksandar Hemon, see The Lazarus Project (novel).
The Lazarus Project
DVD cover
Directed by John Patrick Glenn
Produced by David Hoberman
Todd Lieberman
Travis Adam Wright
Written by John Patrick Glenn
Evan Astrowsky
Starring Paul Walker
Linda Cardellini
Piper Perabo
Malcolm Goodwin
Tony Curran
Bob Gunton
Lambert Wilson
Music by Brian Tyler
Cinematography Jerzy Zielinski
Edited by Fred Raskin
Distributed by Sony Pictures
Release dates
  • October 21, 2008 (2008-10-21)[1]
Running time
100 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Lazarus Project (formerly known as The Heaven Project) is a 2008 American drama/thriller film directed and written by John Patrick Glenn. It stars Paul Walker as Ben, a former criminal who gets a second chance at life and mysteriously ends up working at a psychiatric hospital.[2] Piper Perabo, Linda Cardellini, Malcolm Goodwin, Tony Curran and Bob Gunton also star in the film, which was released on DVD on October 21, 2008.[1]


Ben Garvey is a reformed criminal on parole and he lives with his wife and fathers his young daughter. One day, he unexpectedly loses his job because of his criminal record, and he turns to his ex-con brother which subsequently leads to a laboratory robbery of gold dust gone horribly wrong, and his brother is killed.

Ben, with his long record of robberies, is sentenced to death. He says goodbye to his wife and daughter and goes to the execution chamber. After the sentence, he wakes up from his lethal injection near a psychiatric hospital in a small Oregon town, where he is told that he has been given a second chance from God and to begin work as a groundskeeper at the local mental hospital to live on.

As time goes on, and with a wife and daughter he left behind, he wonders whether he has truly cheated death or if he has become part of a far more sinister plan for him. He meets two patients, a schizophrenic named Robbie and a murderer named William. William is very unstable and attacks Ben several times. Ben notices a tattoo on William's forearm. While Ben is in his cabin, he encounters a dog. Ben takes the dog in and names him Dog (unable to find a good name). Meanwhile, a skin irritation starts to develop on Ben's own forearm. He also meets a psychiatrist named Julie with whom he starts developing a relationship. Ben wants to leave the town to go back to his wife and daughter, despite warnings from Avery, who Ben thinks is the Angel that gave him the second chance. Avery states that if Ben leaves town he will immediately die. Ben attempts to leave on a bus, despite seeing a demon but he gets off at the last stop before the town exit.

The next day he sees in a newspaper that the bus crashed and everybody on board the bus died. One night, William escapes confinement and commits suicide in front of Ben, saying that "they can't follow him in heaven". Ben starts looking through things he finds in his cabin as to the origins of William's tattoo. Similar to Robbie, he starts getting paranoid that he is being watched. One night he sees a demon and starts running through the woods. He falls and loses consciousness. When he awakens, Ezra (who runs the hospital) tells Ben that Ben is in fact a patient at the hospital. He states that Ben burned down his house by falling asleep while smoking, resulting in the deaths of his wife and daughter and driving Ben insane. Ben reacts violently but comes to accept that many of the things, including the dog, the cabin, Avery, and his relationship with Julie are just hallucinations. He manages to get back his permissions to be a groundskeeper at the hospital with Robbie.

One day, he finds a frisbee in a tree which makes him suspicious because he got the frisbee stuck in a tree while playing with the seemingly hallucinated Dog. He visits the animal shelter in town and finds Dog there, who was picked up a week ago (right around the time when Ben was told he was a patient). He looks through Ezra's computer and looks at the patient files. He finds that both he and William had an implant in their forearm (right where William's tattoo was) that causes hallucinations. He removes his own implant and copies the harddrive to a flash drive. Ben goes to his cabin and finds that it is wired with a security camera. He then goes down to the basement and finds a door which he was afraid to enter before. He finds Avery at several monitors that display feeds from security cameras. He beats Avery up for making him think that he was crazy. As he is about to kill Avery with an axe he is stopped by Ezra who explains that he is running a project that is designed to change people who were on death row for the better. Ben is still angry and declares the program a failure, citing William as an example. He then simply walks away because he sent Ezra's harddrive to his wife and if he doesn't stop her then she will view the contents and release them to the press. Ezra is powerless to do anything.

The movie ends with Ben going home with the Dog and meeting his wife who is overjoyed that he is still alive because she thought he was dead, and they share an embrace.[2][3]


  • Paul Walker as Ben Garvey, an ex-con who gets a second chance at life and begins work at a psychiatric hospital.
  • Linda Cardellini as Julie Ingram, the hospital's psychiatrist who takes interest in helping Ben.[4]
  • Malcolm Goodwin as Robbie, one of the hospital's patients.[4]
  • Tony Curran as William Reeds, an extremely violent psychopath who claims to know why Ben is at the hospital.[4]
  • Bob Gunton as Father Ezra, a priest who also runs the hospital.[4]
  • Piper Perabo as Lisa Garvey, Ben's wife.[4]
  • Lambert Wilson as Avery, a mysterious figure that keeps appearing to offer unwanted guidance.[4]
  • Shawn Hatosy as Ricky Garvey, Ben's brother.
  • Brooklynn Proulx as Katie Garvey, Ben's daughter.


Relevant issues in The Lazarus Project place emphasis on cheating death. The film closely relates to the Biblical story of Lazarus of Bethany which is found in chapter 11 of the Gospel of St.John.[citation needed]


Written and directed by John Patrick Glenn in his directorial debut, production was originally slated for September 2005 with Mandeville Films[5] but was ultimately delayed. Production finally began in March 2007 with filming beginning on April 27, 2007 in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada.[6]

The film marked the first company credit for Be Good Productions, a production company created by Paul Walker, Brandon Birtell and Tim Whitcome.[7]

Composer Brian Tyler recorded the score for the film. He stated that, "This one is going to be an ensemble type of score, very introspective, very heartfelt, it is a movie about purgatory and it's going to be different than anything I've done before, and I am really happy and very excited doing it."[8]


The soundtrack for The Lazarus Project was released by Varèse Sarabande on March 3, 2009. All of its compositions were produced by Brian Tyler specifically for the film.[9]

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Jaybird"   Brian Tyler 3:30
2. "The Lazarus Project"   Brian Tyler 3:00
3. "Discovery"   Brian Tyler 5:56
4. "The Divide"   Brian Tyler 2:33
5. "Cold Harbor"   Brian Tyler 1:52
6. "Avery"   Brian Tyler 3:07
7. "Julie in the Cabin"   Brian Tyler 3:20
8. "A New Life"   Brian Tyler 3:20
9. "The Break In"   Brian Tyler 4:08
10. "Passagesscapia"   Brian Tyler 3:01
11. "The Jumper"   Brian Tyler 2:46
12. "Glimpses"   Brian Tyler 2:27
13. "The Revelation"   Brian Tyler 3:02
14. "Voices from the Past"   Brian Tyler 2:53
15. "The Forest"   Brian Tyler 2:33
16. "Portraits"   Brian Tyler 3:30
17. "I Want to Forget"   Brian Tyler 2:30
18. "The Lazarus Project End Title"   Brian Tyler 3:52


The Lazarus Project generally received mixed reactions from critics. The critic review Rotten Tomatoes reported that 44% of audience critics gave the film a positive review. The overall audience gave the film a rating of 3.9 out of 5.[10]


  1. ^ a b Luce, Patrick (2008-08-12). "Cheating Death is Just the Beginning When The Lazarus Project Comes to DVD". Retrieved 2008-09-01.  Monsters and Critics
  2. ^ a b "The Lazarus Project - DVD". Retrieved 2008-09-02.  Sony Pictures Entertainment
  3. ^ ""ER" Star Cardellini in "Heaven"". Reuters. 2007-05-11. Retrieved 2008-09-02.  Reuters.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "The Lazarus Project Movie Review". 2008-09-02. Retrieved 2008-09-18.
  5. ^ Harris, Dana (2005-05-04). "Mandeville's in 'Heaven'". Variety. Retrieved 2008-01-11.  Variety
  6. ^ "Director's Guild of Canada Manitoba District Council -- Production Profile". Retrieved 2008-09-02.  Director's Guild of Canada.
  7. ^ Fleming, Michael (2007-02-28). "Walker Enters 'Heaven'". Variety. Retrieved 2008-01-11.  Variety
  8. ^ "BSOSpirit -- Interview with Brian Tyler". 2007. Retrieved 2008-09-02.  BSOSpirit
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ [2]

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