I recently got a chance to watch Flatliners, a 1990 remake about five medical students who essentially kill themselves for a brief period of time in order to discover what happens after they die, and soon find that their minds have opened up to supernatural cognitive abilities upon their resurrection.
The previews for this flick sparked much excitement in me the months prior to its release. Postmortem mind exploration, newfound superintelligence, horror elements pointing towards schizophrenia? This film was set up to be an intelligent spook fest reminiscent of M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense.
Unfortunately, Flatliners had a tough time maintaining its direction, and many of it’s interested elements were lost in a muddied story that transitioned from dark thriller to cliché horror.
The film opens with the main protagonist Courtney (played by Ellen Page) having flashbacks of a disturbing accident from her past. The death of a family member seemingly pushes her into a role in the medical field, where it becomes very clear that her intentions are focused on the mysteries of death rather than your average medical practices.
Without much buildup Courtney convinces her fellow medical students Jamie and Sophia to kill her for the scientific purposes of discovering the afterlife. Her revival and new personality seems to be enough to convince the rest of the gang to carry through with same procedure, effectively creating a squad of super geniuses.
The story starts to struggle after we find each of the main characters has some sort of past regret.
The first horror element is introduced with Courtney when she experiences some supernatural events only visible to her, essentially a schizophrenic episode. The rest of the characters follow the same route for most of the film, until the last 20 minutes when they conclude that these events are caused by a demon feeding off their past regrets. While this is a fine enough horror concept, it makes a complete waste of the framework they had in place at the beginning of the film.
The director combined two separate and very different movie concepts into one Frankenstein of a movie. There is very little connection between the initial transformation of the characters and the horror aspects of the film later introduced, leaving a film that feels awkward and clunky near its conclusion.
I rate it 2/5 stars
By: Zeb Willey