Flatliners - Review: Do Not Resuscitate

Flatliners - Review: Do Not Resuscitate
5 out of 10

Are you a giver or a taker? Not an easy question but generally do you find yourself making a positive contribution to group activities or do you tend to benefit from being a part of them? It’s the most important question for anyone trying to remake or reboot a film; am I giving or am I taking? Do I believe (even if falsely) that I can make this property better through my own efforts? That I can re-present or refine in a way that adds entertainment value for fans old and new? Or am I only taking? Am I merely re-hashing and re-running the old for my own financial gains and a lesser product? I like to think that all such directors set out to be givers but there’s no denying that many end up as takers. Now Niels Arden Oplev (Mr Robot) joins their ranks, as his 2017 Flatliners remake adds nothing.

Courtney (Ellen Page – Juno) has spent 9 years blaming herself for her sister’s fatal car accident. Now as a medical student, she and a group of her fellows are secretly exploring what lies beyond by temporarily stopping their hearts while undergoing brain scans. It makes them feel alive... until something wants them dead.

This is not an awful film it is merely a needless film. The 1990 original film was not exactly a classic. Yes, that does support a remake because it’s an established IP that can be improved but this is nothing more than a slow, by the numbers re-treading that lacks the original film’s charm. It’s also very over written and drawn out to nearly 2 hours in length and much of the second half feels like it could have been compressed into a leaner run time. Despite the initial rumours the returning Keifer Sutherland does not reprise his role, instead acting as a teacher/head doctor with little purpose in the story other than to justify his own presence and take the spotlight away from the younger cast. That’s a shame because Flatliners has a decent central group for its experimenting medical students. As well Page in the centre (who we don’t see enough of these days) we get Rogue One’s Cassian aka Diego Luna as Ray. In keeping with the dead theme we have The Vampire Diaries Nina Dobrev, along with Kiersey Clemmons (DCEUs new Iris West) and James Norton (War and Peace). The group has some passable chemistry too and the brief interludes of them all having fun together are like coming up for air from the film’s more slow and plodding story.

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The film is also very mixed and conflicted in its themes of being science fiction or a supernatural a story. It starts out by taking a scientific approach to exploring life after death which is interesting. Granted there’s little entertainment in heavy amounts of medical jargon or staring at brain scans to watch for little lightning flashes but the way they conduct the process is relatively engaging. The visual representations of the flatling experiences are a highlight of the film as the capture experiences of wonder or fear. Then it seems someone behind the camera shouted, “I’m confused... just make it a generic haunting movie” because that’s exactly what we get. As soon as the group start experiencing “the after effects” of their flatlining it becomes just another mediocre horror film with routine scenes and attempted scares you’ve seen more than Kevin Bacon mobile phone adverts. Now there could still be some value in this but the horror material is dead on the table with no hope of revival. You’ve get nothing more satisfying than the slightest jump scare from this film. Finally this approach sees the film abandon science altogether to become an extended infomercial for Catholicism; the group are literally haunted by their sins and make up to them to be saved (followed by saying 10 Lords Prayers and 10 Hail Marys presumably). It all leads towards a highly disappointing ending.

With IT killing it and the October horror movie flood upon us there’s no need to give Flatliners your time if you need a horror or thriller fix. It has its moments primarily due to a cast that deserve to be in a film but this one film property that should have stayed dead.

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