A group of students bring themselves back from the dead… it certainly wasn’t to watch this film.
The original Flatliners was a bit beleaguered by a flawed premise and big hair, and it was essentially just completely silly.This new version of Flatliners is no better. In fact, it’s worse. This film is premised as a sequel to the original Flatliners, which was released in 1990 and starred Kiefer Sutherland as Nelson Wright, a role which is reprised here. However it's clearly a remake of a film that just didn't need remaking. A group of students (Ellen Page, Diego Luna, Nina Dobrev, James Norton and Kiersey Clemens) start experimenting with after-death experiences in an attempt to discover what lies beyond.
Unsurprisingly, there turns out to be some iffy consequences to making a U-turn through the afterlife, and before long the students find themselves terrorised by their decisions. After voluntarily stopping their hearts and then being jolted back into the land of the living, the group finds that their brain power is actually enhanced. But, of course, it isn’t long before drama rears its ugly head and each of the formerly deceased soon finds themselves haunted.
Flatliners is a poetically perfect title. This is a sequel/remake/rehash of a film that didn’t need to be brought back from the dead. It’s dead on arrival. It should not be resuscitated. Here’s the thing though – it’s directed okay, and it looks quite nice and the cast, for the most part, does a fine job.
Sadly Ben Ripley’s screenplay doesn’t offer anything new from the first film, is riddled with clichéd minefields, and the film uses some supremely clumsy and lazy plot devices that are borderline laughable; for example, to introduce the concept of the age-old psychological question of the afterlife, we get a few establishing shots of a website asking if there’s life after death. The answer, unfortunately for us, seems to be yes (at least in the case of an obscure 1990 film that literally no one wanted remade).
Flatliners is a poetically perfect title, this is sequel/remake/rehash is dead on arrival and shouldn't be resuscitated
Director Niels Arden Oplev manages a few chilling sequences, and for the most part the film does have a fairly stylish look to it. But ultimately, there’s not a lot of substance; the plot is thin and uber-predictable, and with the exceptions of Page and Clemens, the cast do little with bland characters that you really don’t care about that much.
The culmination of the weak plot is, at least, consistently weak. It feels rushed, there’s little-to-no payoff or catharsis and the main plus point is realising that the film’s nearly over. There’s not too much positive to say about Flatliners – for some reason they’ve brought an already fairly rubbish film back from the dead and the new film isn’t even a pale imitation. No charm, no clever plot points, no innovations.
Flatlining is a nice way to talk about this film. It doesn’t improve on the original, doesn’t add anything new, doesn’t offer anything innovative or interesting to the field in general. It’s not even so bad it’s good – you won’t remember this for very long. This is a surely well-intentioned film that definitely should have stayed dead.
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