I had seen the 1990 film “Flatliners” coincidentally a few months before the trailer was released for the 2017 adaption and I was extremely intrigued to see what aspects of the original would be manipulated to entertain millennial audiences. CGI has developed tremendously since the nineties, and I expected to see stunning visual effects that would overshadow content and character.
Recently, most sci–fi and action films recently prefer spectacle over story and I assumed that this film would fall in the same category. The original was an eerie an intriguing journey through the troubled experiences that the protagonists have after death, but this version used the plot as the foundation on which they built their recreation. The premise feeds off our curiosity about what happens after death which immediately made it very engaging to me.
Ellen Page stars as Courtney, the college student who is obsessed with death. As morbid as this may sound I feel like audiences can relate to her character. She isn’t overly concerned or fearful about what happens after death but there is a part of her that wants to understand it before her time comes. I was not prepared for so many jump scares; I found myself nearly falling out of my seat every few minutes. At first this was fun but eventually the sudden cuts accompanied by a suspenseful score became very predictable.
I felt like after the first half of the film all of the elements I was starting to enjoy began to fall apart. Within the first hour characters were established, they had began to experiment with death and I wondered if there was anything left to show.
I was also annoyed at the fact that the being or presence that was terrorizing them was fairly ambiguous. The creators may have believed this was clever but it tells the audience that Ben Ripley, the screenwriter, didn’t mind leaving viewers confused because the premise was enough to seek them in.
There is a slight implication that their bodies are reacting to the tricks that their minds are playing on them. However, in a scene where Courtney is dragged across the floor which can’t be possible if her brain is controlling her movements. The real issue is that this film tries to be several different types of stories which really affects the pacing. At one pointthe film became a medical drama but the next minute, it was a story about about being haunted by the past and a horror movie as well.
Personally, I think that if it used the conventions of horror films and medical dramas, then it would have created a piece that is very unique and effectively uses the original to spark this reimagining. I thought that the cinematography was interesting but sometimes I was lost in the background because the characters mirrored the original protagonists so much. It felt as if I were watching a skit from SNL.
The special effects were beautiful and dreamy, to me this was its one redeeming quality besides the decent performances from Nina Dobrev, Ellen Page, Diego Luna, Kiersey Clemons and James Norton. So overall, Flatliners did not revive the familiar story, but the first one wasn’t a smash hit either. In the end, if you’re looking for something visually stunning to watch that speaks to different genres of films, then this is definitely for you.