Words Glenn Blomfield
Follower up, slash sequel, or remake to the original 90s Flatliners film, then directed by Joel Schumacher, starring bratpack Julia Roberts, Kevin Bacon, Kiefer Sutherland, and William Baldwin.
This time around we have a new bunch of hot new actors to ogle over, Ellen Page the brains, James Norton the preppy hunk, Deigo Luna the conscious of the group, Nino Dobrev the beauty with the smarts and Kiersey Clemons, always struggling and having to prove something.
Original cast member Kiefer Sutherland, returns as the wise old doctor training new recruits at an elitist Hospital. He is the only link from the original film. His cameo role, carrying an old injury from the first film, walking with a cane, sadly feels underutilised.
There is nothing new in this latest adaptation, all very similar ground, just looks flashier with all the new technology and bells and whistles. the concept is intriguing enough, playing with death, to experience what is afterlife, for only a brief moment, to be brought back to the living with an extraordinary awakening experience.
But herein lies the problem, as cliché as this response is to the film title is, Flatliners, feels ‘flatline’ story wise. I wasn’t feeling actively involved. The storyline lacked a strong heartbeat, it needed its own resuscitation, a kickstart you could say. The characters felt general, we have seen these type of clean cut, good looking actors before over and over. All the characters together naturally have hidden secrets, used as motivation to drive the story along.
The film plays with the genres of Science Fiction, Horror, and Suspense, though none very convincingly for me. Ellen Page’s character plays the real brains of the group, setting up the death experiment, that invokes the group of five that becomes addictive as getting high on a drug. Like horror film Final Destination, it proves you cannot cheat death, there is always going to be consequences. The original Flatliners, I have memories of being grittier, set in old dirty industrial spaces, in a backend empty industrial wasteland of the city.
This time around it is in the Hospital basement, that is clean and clinical. Going for a opposite mood, like a soapy TV show, ER, or Grey’s Anatomy. That’s what this film basically feels like, a Hospital TV drama show, characters lacking real depth or perspective, not fully convinced unaware about the motivations that drive each character, a story that doesn’t quite grab you.
The inciting ‘incident’ of the story that gets the ball rolling as in the ‘death experiment’, requires the viewer to give it suspension of disbelief, to be able to go along with the filmmaker’s intentions, as the situation feels a stretch, in any sense of a real situation.
By the end of the film, I was not being won over by its moral cliché sappy message. The film does not resonant beyond its running time. Flatliners sadly flatlines for me. Not really sure why they remade it as they haven’t added anything new, or in-depth. The angle is the same, the execution lacking. It completely sucked the marrow out of me, requiring post-film resuscitation by way of a late night kebab.