Flatliners, a reboot and not a sequel from the 1990 film of the same name, is disappointing to say the least. While it’s hard not to compare it to the original, this film suffers from pacing problems, character development, and standing out as not just another horror film. Directed by Niels Arden Oplev, who directed the original The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, takes a slightly more traditional horror approach with this film than Joel Schumacher did with his take on the story.
Flatliners is a weak knockoff of the original
Courtney (Ellen Page) recruits fellow medical students Ray (Diego Luna), Marlo (Nina Dobrev), Jamie (James Norton), and Sophia (Kiersey Clemons) to help her with an experiment. She wants them to stop her heart so she can “die” for one minute to discover what happens when we die. After what appears to be a successful experiment, the rest want to try flatlining to see what happens, but they’re playing with things they don’t understand.
There is something impactful missing from this film. Everything about it feels a little bland starting with the opening sequence where Courtney is in a car accident. While visually the accident is brutal, there is something missing that makes it feel real or important. That element is missing with the characters and all of the events that transpire all feel empty. It’s possible that the pacing of the film, which tends to move quite quickly from scene to scene, doesn’t allow for characters to develop properly and thus the events that affect them have less impact on the audience. Whatever it is, leaves a very unsatisfying feeling while watching the film.
There wasn’t any performance that stood out here either. Each actor performed believably, but none were able to transcend the mediocre script. A movie like this could be saved by a single performance or interesting character, but it didn’t work out here. It’s disappointing as Page is an actress I hold in high regard, but she wasn’t able to save this movie.
If Flatliners was an original film (listen to our Movie Club episode for it) it would likely receive the Not a Total Waste of Time for an interesting premise, sufficient horror elements, and a solid cast in a weak script or at least weak edit. However, there is already a good version of this film and this falls farther down the list as a result. Flatliners, 2017, earns the Avoid Like the Plague Rating.