Flatliners Retrospective Review
In anticipation of remake/sequel, Flatliners, I watched the original film from 1990. There may be minor spoilers but the film came out in 1990 so you've had a few years to see it. Flatliners is a science fiction psychological horror film directed by Joel Schumacher, produced by Michael Douglas and Rick Bieber, and written by Peter Filardi. It stars Kiefer Sutherland, Julia Roberts, William Baldwin, Oliver Platt, and Kevin Bacon.
The Story/The Direction:
Five medical students want to see what lies beyond death by conducting experiments on themselves that produce near-death experiences. One by one, they go through a clinical death, see the "afterlife," and then brought back by emergency measures. Each participant dares the next to go a long time and comes back with a sort of guilt that they were holding on to. The script does a fantastic to look at the concepts of sin, responsibility and unintended evil. This plot is intriguing by the environment that is set up by Schumacher. He creates this gloomy environment filled with shadows and stained-glass windows that give the experiments an eery feeling as they manipulate God's plans. Schumacher is fairly good with his style here. He uses these students in a way that emotes Dr. Frankenstein and their environment supports that. The pacing is fast-paced, intriguing and has a good amount tension.
One thing great about watching older films is seeing actors that you know and love at a young age. This film is no different with Sutherland, Roberts, and Bacon. Sutherland is the ringleader, Nelson, the student who comes up with the idea to test death. Roberts has her own reasons for the afterlife and Bacon is the Atheist who got suspended from school because he performed a surgery to save a life, without permission. I really enjoyed the former three actors as they were able to add some great emotion to their roles that made me care about what happened to them when they were dead.
The biggest flaw with this film is that aside from Sutherland, Roberts, and Bacon, the acting is sub-par. Baldwin and Pratt are decent but they are fairly replaceable and flat in their roles. Their characters weren't written very well as I feel Baldwin's character did not have to die to feel guilty about what he did. However, even when you disregard the acting ability of the latter two, the tension of experiments in the film is lost somewhat when you know that they will come back. Each attempt is longer and a tad trickier to bring the dead back but when you don't really care about one of the characters who dies, you lose a little bit of the tension.
This film was particularly thrilling and I had a good time watching this film. It is a decent thriller with a bit of horror thrown in. It gives a decent message that there is something out there without saying exactly what and if you have made past mistakes, you can make up for them. This film has its flaws but it flourishes on a script looking at its characters' guilt. Schumacher's direction definitely creates a great eeriness throughout the film. Coupled with decent performances by Sutherland, Roberts, and Bacon, you get a good film that is definitely worth checking out once. The sequel has a decent director in Niels Arden Oplev who directed the original The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and writer in Ben Ripley, who wrote Source Code. It has a decent cast with Ellen Page, Diego Luna, James Norton and Kiefer Sutherland returning. If the sequel is able to take this film, modernize it well and keep all the characters interesting, the sequel has the potential to be good
Rating: 3.0/5.0 bowties
What did you all think of the film? Let me know in the comments section.
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