Director: Niels Arden Oplev
Cast: Ellen Page, Diego Luna, Nina Dobrev, James Norton, Kiersey Clemons, Kiefer Sutherland
Runtime: 1 hr 54 mins
Rating: PG13 (Some Disturbing Scenes & Coarse Language)
Released By: Sony Pictures Releasing International
Official Website: https://www.facebook.com/FlatlinersMovie
Opening Day: 18 October 2017
Synopsis: In Flatliners, five medical students, obsessed by the mystery of what lies beyond the confines of life, embark on a daring and dangerous experiment: by stopping their hearts for short periods of time, each triggers a near-death experience – giving them a firsthand account of the afterlife. But as their experiments become increasingly dangerous, they are each haunted by the sins of their pasts, brought on by the paranormal consequences of trespassing to the other side.
Sony obviously never learnt its lesson. After the disastrous reboot of Ghostbusters, the studio once again dust off one of its cult titles, Flatliners and gave it an unnecessary makeover for the contemporary audiences.
The original 1990 Joel Schumacher (Batman Forever, The Lost Boys) version boasts a stellar cast that includes Kiefer Sutherland (24), Pretty Woman Julia Roberts, a then long hair Kevin Bacon and a pre Backdraft William Baldwin and of course a pretty intriguing plot that sort of explores the afterlife. For all it’s worth, it’s both stylish and scary at that point of time.
27 years later, Sony entrusts the property to Danish director Niels Arden Oplev who helmed the original The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Ben Ripley who did the superb Source Code to rework the script. Both relatively competent and proven filmmakers. Alas, nothing in this 2017 version scream of any originality and surprise in fact it’s a total yawn fest from start to finish.
Courtney Holmes (Ellen Page) is a medical student who is obsessed with the idea of the afterlife. In an attempt to find out more, Courtney invited her fellow classmates, rich brat Jamie (James Norton) and Sophia (Kiersey Clemons) to stop her heart for sixty seconds before reviving her in a deserted hospital facility. The experiment at first was deemed a success with Courtney miraculously recalling how to play the piano but when her classmates start to flatline themselves, they realized there are deadly consequences waiting to play out.
No doubt about it, the filmmakers have assembled a bunch of good-looking actors (Norton, Clemons and Nina Dobrev from The Vampire Diaries) and two capable performers, Page and Diego Luna from Rogue One. Not forgetting Kiefer Sutherland who makes an utterly useless cameo as the students’ professor. However, half of the movie plays liked a cheapskate horror thriller by the time the students start to develop hallucinations.
Like a hiker who lost his way in the dense forest, Niels Arden Oplev plies the movie with plenty of jump scares, cheesy CGI and dialogues that the idea of afterlife becomes a mere exploitative tool. The movie abruptly switches from one hallucination to another starting with Courtney who begins to imagine her dead younger sister coming alive while her friends liked Jamie who somehow ended up stabbing himself on his yacht with Sophia trapped in a lift and Dobrev’s character being haunted by a patient.
The list goes on and it reminds one of the Final Destination franchise only this one is a lot milder. It’s PG13 after all. Besides all the cheap scares and loud music, Flatliners’ biggest mistake is not offering a believable reason for the outrageous experiment. Anyone with a decent amount of common sense will know the danger of cutting oxygen to your brain let alone medical students unless you buy the movie message of facing your inner demons via flatlining. That’s definitely a convenient way.
Flatliners is a complete waste of talents (looking at you, Page and Luna) and the $19 million budget. There’s absolutely nothing salvageable in what seems to be one of the worst remakes of all time. With such shoddy releases, Sony needs to get a defibrillator onhand when they release their annual turnover. Someone in the boardroom sure gonna needs it.
(Flatliners is as flat as a pancake. At least the pancake can stave off your hunger but this movie doesn’t)
Review by Linus Tee