Medical students begin to explore the realm of near death experiences, hoping for insights. Each has their heart stopped and is revived. They begin having flashes of walking nightmares from their childhood, reflecting sins they committed or had committed against them. The experiences continue to intensify, and they begin to be physically beaten by their visions as they try and go deeper into the death experience to find a cure.
When it comes to remaking a movie, I’m all for it if it means that they’re going to try and make a better movie out of something that wasn’t all that impressive to begin with. That being said, if the original film was already solid or decently received by both audiences and critics, then why bother? Flatliners was a film that was released back in 1990, and I quite enjoy that film, even though the overall product has many issues of its own. I didn’t see the reason for a remake, but I could see potential in improving it, so I was open-minded. Sadly, Flatliners is one of the worst films I’ve seen all year. Taking a solid premise and putting a supernatural spin on it for absolutely no apparent reason, bothered me to no end. Here is why Flatliners fails as both a remake and as an original piece to be shown to a new audience.
The idea of doctors being capable of flatlining people and bringing them back to life, being able to have conversations about what death is like and going through hallucinations as a side effect is quite interesting; However, this version of the film becomes a supernatural thriller by the time it reaches its third act, making for a very confusing film, due to the fact that there is clearly no physical entity that could ever accomplish these things. This version of this concept just strips away anything that was exciting or intriguing about the original film. Not to compare and contrast, but idea of Flatliners definitely benefits from a more subdued and subtle approach to things.
What bothered me was the fact that the majority of the cast seemed capable of being subdued, but the film’s screenplay was such a mess that I found myself thinking these actors/actresses deserved better material. In particular, Diego Luna and Ellen Page were actually very good in their respective roles, making for a few emotionally resonant moments, even though the lines they were given were pretty lame. Quite honestly, with a better script, a title change, and a bit of originality, this cast could’ve worked in a much better movie.
Even though the performances are all decent, the fact that this cast was a bunch of youngsters actually annoyed me. The original film was about a group of experienced doctors who had a neat idea, and were much more capable of being able to bring each other back to life. This time around, it’s a group of students who have just enough knowledge in maybe being able to bring each other back. This notion alone was a scripting mistake, because it just becomes a story about naive young students who become obsessed with someone’s experiment. I found no attachment to any of these characters and none of them really had a reason for wanting to die (with the exception of one or two without spoiling anything), which left me not caring from frame one.