As a general rule of thumb, if you’re going to update a film that was (let’s face it) average at best to begin with, it’s probably a good idea to add something new to the mix. Unfortunately, Oplev doesn’t quite manage this with his latest offering of Flatliners, a “sequel” to the 1990 original starring Julia Roberts and Kiefer Sutherland. Instead, we’re offered the same flawed premise, but without the scares of the original – and thus the film descends into cheap thrills and regurgitated horror tropes.
While the film is mildly entertaining in itself – as most films are if you leave all sense of reality at the door – this vapid remake raises a lot more questions than it answers. If you just take the fundamental concept of five arrogant medical students flatlining in order to understand life beyond death, we have to ask ourselves the question: are they the first people ever to have died and been brought back to life? It’s highly unlikely, and so we have a gaping plot hole that isn’t solved in either the 1990 original or its subpar reboot.
Though the cast seems promising at first glance, the reality is that they lack the gravitas of Sutherland and Roberts, meaning we’re left with nothing but a script that struggles to transcend its silly subject matter.
Unfortunately, the film flatlines roughly five minutes in, and never fully recovers. Any flaws from the original are merely reproduced – and nowhere near as competently. If you’re looking for a few quick scares, you might find some here (that’s if you find radios turning on and off scary) – but you’re more likely to leave the cinema feeling cheated, and a little perplexed.
CAST: Ellen Page, Nina Dobrev, Diego Luna, James Norton, Kiersey Clemens
DIRECTOR: Niels Arden Oplev
WRITER: Ben Ripley, based on the film Flatliners written by James Filardi
SYNOPSIS: Five medical students, hoping to gain insight into the mystery of what lies beyond the confines of life, embark on a daring and dangerous experiment.