“Flatliners” stars Ellen Page, Diego Luna, Nina Dobrev, James Norton, and Kiersey Clemons. Released on September 29, 2017, the film has five young medical students attempting to conduct experiments that produce near-death experiences.
The film is directed by Niels Arden Oplev, who also directed films such as Portland, Worlds Apart, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Speed Walking. It is a sequel to the 1990 film of the same name. Another week, another horror movie to get to, and it’s still not even October yet. We all have those moments when we’re this close to the end of our lives, then somehow we managed to live to see another day. But sometimes we ask ourselves, “What lies beyond death?” This concept came from the 1990 film, "Flatliners", which was directed by Joel Schumacher, the man who brought us the two Batman films that we love to forget. While not a classic, the 1990 version of "Flatliners" was a minor success at the box office, and it received an Oscar nomination for Best Sound Editing. 27 years later, Hollywood decided to release a “sequel” to the film, because why not? I have no experience with the original Flatliners, so in this case, I will be looking at it as its own film, and maybe later on, I will check out the 1990 film and see how it compares to the 2017 version.
If you’re familiar with the 1990 version, then you should have no problem following the plot, because it’s pretty similar to the original’s plot. Medical students conduct experiments that involve near-death experiences, and then shortly afterwards, they receive some disturbing side effects that forces them to face their demons from their past. To its credit, it had a pretty solid idea. Unfortunately, its execution was DOA (That stands for “Dead on Arrival” if you don’t get it). I can understand what they’re going for, especially with its themes, but the way they portrayed the story as a whole is pretty much like the title itself, flatlined. Aside from its mediocre storytelling, the film also suffers from its usual horror genre tropes and an underwhelming third act. Yes, the film is a psychological horror film, and yes, it has jump scares, so be prepared. The concept could work as a drama film, but as a horror film, it didn’t exactly hit the right chords to make itself disturbing or even scary. However, it did have a couple of things that I liked, such as the actors. The cast did a nice job at keeping the film alive for a brief amount of time, such as Ellen Page and Diego Luna as Courtney Holmes and Ray, respectively. The only downside is that the characters are downright forgettable, with one of them being pointless (No spoilers in case you haven’t seen it). Kiefer Sutherland reprises his role from the original Flatliners film as Nelson Wright (or Dr. Barry Wolfson in the sequel). From what I read on the Internet, the inclusion of this character meant that the 2017 edition of "Flatliners" was supposed to be a continuation of the original film, but in reality, it acts like any other remake that Hollywood has been putting out in recent years. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed Sutherland’s performance, but I can’t help but feel that he’s just there to lure in people who remember him from the original.
Overall, despite the talents from the main cast and its themes about facing one’s personal fears, the 2017 version of “Flatliners” is not only the most underwhelming horror film of the year, but it is also a mediocre and pointless continuation (or remake) of the original version. As its own film, it had the right idea. It just didn’t offer a lot of oomph into its usual cliches that we’ve seen in most horror films, which is why I didn’t like the film that much. If you managed to like the 1990 version and/or are interested in seeing the new version, I would recommend waiting for this one to come out on television. It’s not entirely bad, but like every near-death experience, it’s something that you don’t want to experience for yourself.