Movie Review – Flatliners

No pulse detected on this 90s sci-fi thriller remake.

⭐ ⭐ ½     
Elle Cahill 

Another day, another remake; Flatliners sees Joel Schumacher‘s largely forgotten 1990 film of the same name return to cinemas, begging the question why any studio would feel the need to revive this film. Presumably, Sony hoped today’s audiences would be more receptive to the daring concept, but the original’s failings were never conceptual. Where both films fall down is in execution.

Medical student Courtney (Ellen Page) leads an experiment to visit the afterlife that involves stopping the heart of a subject then reviving them before they hit the four-minute mark. Following the success of her first experiment, each of her fellow students go on to experience the afterlife, only to learn death is something that shouldn’t be meddled with…

On paper, it’s got all the makings for a hit. In the director’s chair is Niels Arden Oplev; most well-known for the Swedish Millennium trilogy (Girl With The Dragon Tattoo), he’s proven his abilities to handle sensitive themes before. His cast, much like the original, is filled with “hot right now” stars including Page (Inception), Diego Luna (Rogue One) and Nina Dobrev (The Vampire Diaries) who have all dared to push the realms of our existence before.

It’s got everything going for it, but it just doesn’t connect. Maybe it’s the overuse of archetypal characters; there’s nothing here we haven’t seen before, and the cast struggle to get any sort of emotional weight out of the limited material on offer. Or it could be that the afterlife purgatory theme throughout is awfully contrived, with each character having to face some sort of moral dilemma that’s filled with plot holes and inconsistencies.

Page isn’t her usual sassy, witty self that we’ve come to know and love, and her supporting cast don’t offer much either. James Norton‘s turn as womanising Jamie is overplayed as is Kiersey Clemons as the highly-strung Sophia in constant contact with her overbearing mother.

For a film marketing itself as a thriller, all it really offers is some jump scares and cheap thrills. My only hope is that when they remake this in another 17 years’ time, they’ll learn from the two previous films and actually make something of this premise.

Flatliners is available in Australian cinemas from September 28

Image courtesy of Sony Pictures

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