As the newest inductee into the canon of modern horror reboots, you could be fooled into thinking that the remake of 1990 Kiefer Sutherland helmed Flatliners could do well to improve on the underwhelming original.
Maybe you were enticed by a lead role from Ellen Page, wunderkinder of the mid-to-late noughties? Or maybe The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo director Niels Arden Oplev sold it to you? Well, prepare for a scamming – Flatliners isn’t here for your benefit, it’s here for your money.
Five jaded medical students take a nosedive into the afterlife by enthusiastically stopping each other’s hearts, only to awaken with a revigorated passion for life. However, they all harbour guilt which takes them on bad trips involving the various people whose lives they have ruined over the years.
The entirety of this middle section feels akin to (and is about as fun as) having four different dream diaries read to you.
After the initial setup, in which the premise is outlined in tantalising fashion, all interest flatlines, as a succession of characters delve one after the other into the beyond. The entirety of this middle section feels akin to (and is about as fun as) having four different dream diaries read to you. As Flatliners creeps glacially towards its conclusion, occasionally chucking a smattering of soapy sexual tension into the mix, it segues clumsily into tiresome, jump-scariness. By this point you’re yearning for this, or any, gear-shift. At least the pace picks up, but by that time rigor mortis has long set in.
Flatliners commits the worst crime a remake can do; it fails to improve on a disappointing original, making you question why there was any need for the reboot in the first place. While the existentialist concepts of afterlife and whether the grass really is greener could have been used to the film’s advantage, Flatliners eschews this exploration in favour of cheap, flat pack horror tedium of the very poorest worth.