Five talented young actors and a fascinating concept – the 1990 original version of Flatliners was full of promise but lacked polish.
Now, 27 years later, Hollywood has deigned it appropriate to give the film a second chance at life.
The result is… sort of alright.
What the original film lacked in production design and clarity this year’s Flatliners has in spades.
It’s clinical, sharp and clean – just what you would expect of a science-y, hospital-based thriller, rather than the confused, smoky, gothic tendencies of its predecessor.
The 1990 film gathered Julia Roberts, Kevin Bacon, Kiefer Sutherland, Oliver Platt and Billy Baldwin as five medical students keen to answer the eternal question – what happens after death – by killing themselves (flatlining) and bringing each other back to life.
The new film follows the same premise, with added brain scanning capabilities.
The med students this time around are played by Oscar-nominee Ellen Page (Juno), The Vampire Diaries’ Nina Dobrev, Rogue One’s Diego Luna, Dope actress Kiersey Clemons and Belle star James Norton. Sutherland returns for the reboot, this time as a doctor overseeing the students’ hospital rounds.
While this film is significantly more polished than the original it does nothing to improve on or elevate the story.
It’s still about a group of competitive and talented doctors, they still want find out what happens when you die and things still go wrong after they go through their experiments.
This film fails to provide any new insight or frankly give the audience anything fresh to work with.
For people who have not seen the original movie, Flatliners is a perfectly acceptable thriller with a cool concept and a few decent scares.
The cast is solid, the pacing is fine and the effects don’t feel like they’re out of a mid-80s music video (one of the biggest problems of the original film).
However, for those who have seen the first attempt it’s simply more of the same.
Flatliners is certainly not a must-see but it’s far from an avoid-at-all-costs as well.
This, perhaps, should not be a surprise from the director of the entirely forgettable 2013 movie Dead Man Down: Niels Arden Oplev.