Ellen Page and her med student friends (Diego Luna, Kiersey Clemons, Nina Dobrev, and James Norton) experiment with the afterlife. The idea is to have your heart stopped for a minute (after which you are revived) so that the brain activity can be monitored and analysed. Page is the first guinea pig, but the others have a crack at it too, save the slightly more cautious and sane Luna. A side effect of the experiment appears to be reinvigoration and an accelerate in skills in some cases. Unfortunately, the experiment has other side effects. Bad ones. Kiefer Sutherland turns up as a doctor.
The original “Flatliners” was a moderately enjoyable bit of schlock with B-grade material and a pedigree straddling the line between A and B-grade. This 2017 remake is inferior in every way. Outside of some interesting visuals and camerawork, this one comes up terribly short. For starters, look at the casting. The original had Kiefer Sutherland, Kevin Bacon, Julia Roberts, William Baldwin, and Oliver Platt. Who do we have here? Diego Luna (who is about ten years too old to be here), “Juno” (Ellen Page), the chick from “Degrassi” and “The Vampire Diaries” (Nina Dobrev), and…yeah, that’s about it. Hardly stellar. In fact, the most effective performance comes from for me the least familiar, Kiersey Clemons, who is charismatic, and plays one of the least objectionable of the leads. Sadly even she becomes unlikeable fairly quickly, and it’s a problem. The characters in the original weren’t exactly likeable, but these twits? No, thanks.
Nina Dobrev is particularly miscast as, like, totally a med student and everything. Also not working for me was James Norton who plays the most ‘camp’ resident lothario I’ve ever come across. Like Luna, he also looks to be around 35 and it’s very distracting. Ellen Page still looks about 12 and is still annoying, but she’s surprisingly solid. As for the one and only Kiefer Sutherland, playing a doctor here with white hair that absolutely does not suit him, he’s disappointing. He looks positively suicidal, and the normally reliable actor is surprisingly hammy in the worst way.
For me, the main problem here is that unlike the original where I just went with it, I resisted this film from a credibility point of view from start to finish. I didn’t buy it. Any of it. I found it particularly irritating that when Page goes through her near-death experience, it leaves her having one of those completely mythological ‘using more than 10% of your brain’ BS moments. Its clichéd and as I said, completely BS. We have access to 100% of our brain, we just don’t use 100% of it 100% of the time. I didn’t let it slide with “Lucy” and I’m not giving this film a pass, either. One character solves a Rubik’s cube supposedly really quickly, but unfortunately you will have seen 8 year-olds solve it much faster without the need to temporarily ‘cross over’. Meanwhile, being revived from death in an ill-advised experiment is one thing, but to then go and get liquored up right after? That’s moronic behaviour from supposedly intelligent med students. One quote in particular sums up the entire problem with the film: ‘They should bottle Flatlining. Sell it as a club drug’. Ugh. These people aren’t just students stupidly experimenting, they’re vapid pretty people pretending to be med students dangerously experimenting. I just didn’t buy them or any of this as real even for 90 minutes. I also have to say that the film isn’t remotely scary, and more so than the original this one is indeed trying to be a horror film. It fails. In fact, the film as a whole completely conks out at the 20 minute mark and just drones on and on soullessly after that. The finale is absolutely disastrous, the biggest rush-job I’ve seen in decades.
The remake does some interesting visual things, but fails in the script department and isn't even scary. Pretty poorly cast in most respects, too.