by Ian Morton
Most adequately described by its title alone, Flatliners falls desperately short with a messy plot, unstructured directing and an odd mix of performances.
Through a process known as ‘flatlining’ (which essentially consists of stopping the heart), a group of medical students find more than they bargained for in a quest to study the afterlife.
Adapted from Joel Schumachers 90’s cult classic, Flatliners is another entry on the list of sequels/prequels/ reboots (or as I call it, the ‘se-pre-boot-quels’) that fails to even measure up to its original. From Danish director Niels Arden Oplev, the film opens with an intriguing (if not brief) introduction to the plot and characters but it’s not until the narrative starts gaining pace that the production seamlessly falls apart.
Like a drunk toddler on a bouncy castle, the story jumps haphazardly between about four genres with such disregard for its central plot that the audience is left in the dark over what’s actually meant to be happening. This lack of focus is felt at every juncture, consistently losing its footing and consequently never managing to recover in time for the plot to gain traction. With key scenes seemingly losing ground to pointless student stereotype and a lack of focus toward any particular genre, the result is a messy narrative that never truly knows what it wants to be.
From a visual perspective, Oplev does a decent job with the opening but doesn’t really give us anything new when it comes to everything else. Predictable jump scares paired with overly familiar set pieces make the most of the horror/thriller elements easily forgettable while the stand out ‘flatline’ moments are no more than a cliched imagining of life after death. Given the creative scope something like this offers, the result is a boring, uninteresting take on a potentially intriguing topic.
Briefly introduced to our antagonists with all the bells and whistles of the 90’s teen stereotype, our heroes fair no better than the plot itself. Natural likability allows Ellen Page and Diego Luna to shine the brightest in a rather dimly lit room, taking an easy paycheck with everyone else falling by the wayside. With the characters adhering to typical ‘power ranger-esque’ personalities fairly early on, the group quickly grows tiresome and unfortunately make you care very little for what transpires.
Although the original wasn’t exactly lavished with critical acclaim, cult status mixed with a great cast make it an easy adventure to go back to. With this re-imagining falling way shorter than its initial low expectation, the result is a movie that many shouldn’t rush to see anytime soon. 1.5 out of 5 stars.
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