MOVIE REVIEW – ‘Flatliners’ (2017)

This unnecessary reboot fails on almost every imaginable level.

Review by J.T. Johnson

DIRECTOR: Niels Arden Oplev
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Eric Kress
WRITER: Ben Ripley
MUSIC: Nathan Barr

Before I begin the review proper, let me go ahead and clear up some confusion. The 2017 version of “Flatliners” is a straight up remake. It is not, as some reports implied, a sequel to the 1990 original. Yes, Kiefer Sutherland is in the movie but he plays an entirely different character in what amounts to being a glorified cameo.

That said, thankfully this film has no connections to the original cult favorite. Absolutely the only good thing I can say about this film is that somehow the filmmakers suckered some talented actors to be a part of it. There is almost nothing redeemable about this terrible excuse of a film beyond that.

In this remake, Dr. Courtney Holmes (Ellen Page) is a gifted medical student who has a fascination with wanting to know what happens after we die. In an unrealistically quick fashion, she manages to convince some of her friends to join her in an experiment where they will “kill” Courtney for one minute before bringing her back to see what she experienced on the other side.

After she returns, her intelligence and ability to remember lost talents increases and then the other students want to “flatline” themselves. After all but one of them goes through the experiment, they begin to experience horrible visions. Unfortunately, those visions might just prove to be more real than originally thought.

The first thing I hate about this remake is what I actually hate about most remakes. This movie adds absolutely nothing new to make it a necessary film. I’m actually very lenient on remakes and reboots so long as they either tell the story in an interesting new way or at least add something new to the equation and this film does neither.

As a horror film, it just completely fails. Halfway through the movie, there is a twist that is meant to put the audience on the edge of their seats. Instead, all it does is take away the best thing this film had going for it in the first place. For the sake of spoilers, I’ll keep this twist to myself just in case you don’t heed my warnings and end up seeing this pile of garbage.

Beyond the twist, there are half-baked attempts to scare the audience that you always see coming from a mile away. Not once did I even flinch in my seat when something bad was about to happen. Of course, part of that could also be the fact that I don’t get to really know or care about any of these characters.

The script is filled with stiff dialogue and all the horror clichés. Also, there is one story thread that proves to be horribly pro-life over pro-choice. I would be madder about this blatant political high horse but to be honest, I don’t think the writer is actually that smart and just stumbled onto this hackneyed political message.

OH! And don’t text and drive! That is one of the things that causes problems for one of our characters. My, look at how current our writer thinks he is. Still, the script comes from Ben Ripley and I shouldn’t really have expected any better from the writer of “Species III”.

I could rant and rant and rant about this film for hours, but I have better things to do and better movies to watch. The last thing I can say about “Flatliners” is that my bar wasn’t really that high going in, but yet somehow it still managed to go under it. This is without a doubt one of the worst films I’ve seen all year.

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