Director: Niels Arden Oplev
Screenplay: Ben Ripley
Starring: Ellen Page, Diego Luna, Nina Dobrev, James Norton, Kiersey Clemons, Kiefer Sutherland
Runtime: 110 Minutes
The soft-reboot treatment to Hollywood properties of old has proved successful with some major series, but there are occasions like Flatliners where its status as either a sequel or a reboot is blurred and confused by its construction, narrative similarity and the apparent inclusion of Kiefer Sutherland as the original movie’s returning character – even though he goes by a different name and acts as a glorified cameo without connection to events in the story.
Although the premise could be worthy of another treatment, that being five young medical students whose experiments in simulating near-death experiences bring them face-to-face with their past mistakes – this remake/reboot/whatever brings nothing new to the story beyond sharp and light modern visuals of director Niels Arden Oplev. Though there is some interest early on with the tension in the first experiment, it quickly goes downhill and devolves into cliché as a straight psychological horror as they get pumped of on the rush of dying over and over and party into the night like they’re high on Red Bull. Complete with creepy visions of scary whispering ghost children punctuated by jump scares.
The performances aren’t terrible from a cast including Ellen Page, Diego Luna and Kiersey Clemons, but their characters aren’t engaging and stuck with heavy exposition dumps of background for each of their requisite nightmare scenarios. Made worse by the fact that a major character leaves the film half way though (and the most interesting screen presence), and it leaves the remainder of the boring cast of characters to slowly descend into tedious routines as it gets louder and dumber.
While not a classic, at least the original Joel Schumacher film had a heightened operatic goofiness to proceedings with its Brat Pack cast to keep it engaging. Flatliners 2017 it’s a slick but empty-headed and boring film. The dissonance is amazing, because it wants you to know it’s done some homework on the science to seem like smart, even though it’s about people who voluntarily kill themselves and then start being haunted by ghosts.