Flatliners (2017)

Hands up if you didn’t realise this was a remake of a 1990s Kevin Bacon film

So, my hand is up. Especially when I made the connection halfway home after viewing the 2017 reimagining. Flatliners posed a really interesting question at the beginning of it’s film as it questions what happens to us after we die.

Whilst the premise kind of intrigued me, with the trailer placing five medical students all are trying to prove something new in medical science. And Ellen Page’s Courtney takes centre stage for this discovery. What lay beneath was peculiar though, instead of being profound and using the existence of the afterlife as a platform, it rather focuses on the sins of the flatliners.

Flatliners does open in almost a subliminal message to not check your phone whilst driving as Courtney with her sister is involved in a crash because Courtney was checking her phone. As the result of this crash, Courtney carries guilt about causing the death of younger sister.

She invites Sophia (Kiersey Clemons) and Jamie (James Norton) to help her with a project. The project? To intentionally cause a near-death experience, and record the brain activity. Much of this film would rely on the performances of the cast and their believability of this ‘experience’. Unfortunately, when Ellen Page flatlines, it shows no more life than she did when on-screen.

And this continues with the rest of the cast, as it does touch on the motivations of the rest of the cast but I felt Niels Arden Oplev’s choice was to get the bulk of the story rather than nurturing these characters to grow. As a result, Flatliners actually bored me fairly early on. Also, it seemed apparent that Sophia and Jamie fit a mould that is all too common, as Sophia bends to her mothers beck and call whereas Jamie is the preppy guy that is coasting his way through the internship.

After Courtney’s flatline experience, she seems nonchalant about it all, until rounds the following day with her medical student colleagues and answers the questions without hesitation. This sets up the rest of Flatliners after they all connect Courtney’s newfound knowledge to her near death experience.

So what do the others decide to do? Stop their hearts as well and tap into a newfound consciousness, of course. Aside from Ray (Diego Luna) who remains severely against what is now being called ‘flatlining’. After everyone goes through their experience the film then enters strange territory as it becomes a paranormal, psychological thriller of sorts.

But for that to work, it has to be convincing. And I don’t think Flatliners manages to get convincing in any regards. The cast do not make the hauntings convincing either, probably down to their quite unlikable characters, but also the borderline idiotic venture they put their bodies through. Diego was the only shining light throughout the film as he constantly opposed this ridiculous study from the start.

As I mentioned Oplev seemed dedicated to the cause of the paranormal and psychological elements held within Flatliners. However, because I had already lost interest at this point due to the lack of substance behind the characters, I couldn’t get on board with how the film played out into it’s climax. It chose to adopt a few jump scares which were very foreseeable and thus became even more boring.

I have no idea if the 1990s was similar, or completely different, but with this reimagining I have no intention to view the original. The film does feel fairly apt for it’s runtime and doesn’t drag it’s feet so much, but I just couldn’t get invested in a largely unlikeable characters and idiotic nature of the story. Flatliners certainly flatlined for me.

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