Directed by: Niels Arden Oplev
Screenplay by: Ben Ripley
Story by: Peter Filardi
Produced by: Laurence Mark, Michael Douglas, Peter Safran
Starring: Ellen Page, Diego Luna, Nina Dobrev, James Norton, Kiersey Clemons, Kiefer Sutherland.
Reminiscent of the, Final Destination franchise, Flatliners is about the avoidance of death only to be haunted in the land of the living.
I was enthralled when watching the 1990 original of, Flatliners.
Directed by Joel Schumacher and staring the likes of Kiefer Sutherland, Julia Roberts, Kevin Bacon, William Baldwin and Oliver Platt; I hadn’t ever seen a film like it: trainee doctors stopping the heart from beating, to flat line, causing death only to be brought back to life to research and record what happens after death. Are there bright lights and vivid colours? Is there comfort? Is there life after death?
The remake is based on the original story, written by Peter Filardi, but adapted to the screen by Ben Ripley (who also wrote the script for, Source Code (2011)).
And once again, we have five student doctors: Courtney (Ellen Page) as the seeker; Jamie (James Norton) the player, willing to take a ride no matter how wild; the previous fire-fighter, Ray (Diego Luna); Marlo (Nina Dobrey) the competitive; and Sophia (Kiersey Clemons) driven to burn-out by her pushy mother. All on their neurology rotation, all willing to par-take in the exploration of death and what comes after.
What they don’t expect is the enhancement of their intelligence. And the price paid as darkness follows, as their previous sins haunt them once brought back to life.
Director Niels Arden Oplev (Millennium: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009) and the pilot of, Mr. Robot) has modernised the story by focussing on getting the medical science right and updating the technology by setting the death and resurrection scenes in an abandoned bunker kept fully equipped in the basement of the hospital in case of natural disaster, epidemic break-outs or the end of the world.
The film rests on the belief it’s possible and believable to kill, record brain activity and observe neural function, to try to capture life after death, to then be resurrected.
I could poke holes and mention things like, why would a bunker of hospital equipment be left unused? Yet calibrated, software fully up-to-date, with consumables all current (and not expired like the young doctors!)?
And really, why would a doctor risk hypoxic brain injury, let alone death, to go along with Courtney for a chance at fame? Particularly the charming Jamie – although a risk taker, I wasn’t convinced such a personality would go so far…
All questions aside, Flatliners was still an interesting and scary movie.
Notably, the performance from Ellen Page, who carried the film through those questionable moments.
But what made the original such a believable film was the characters.
The equivalent of the precious Randy Steckle (Oliver Platt) – the only one who didn’t flatline in the original – was Ray. Yet, instead of the comic relief from Steckle, Ray was the saviour of the group, but really it felt like he was just side-lined.
The effects of ghosts appearing in the shadows amongst the drownings, the bedcovers and under the sheets covering a hospital trolley were used well without being over the top, making the film scarier than expected.
But I wasn’t blown away with the remake.
The dialogue and characters of the original still holds up (even if Kevin Bacon’s haircut doesn’t). Here, the focus is more on the medical compared to the original which was more philosophical, the students with a genuine interest in the afterlife.
Making Flatliners (2017) intriguing but nowhere near as good as the original.