Flatliners (1990)

Director: Joel Schumacher
Starring: Kiefer Sutherland, Julia Roberts, William Baldwin, Oliver Platt, and Kevin Bacon. USA. 1h 55m

One question has plagued mankind since the dawn of time, what happens after death? Is there a big party in the sky, do you get to rekindle your relationships with your ancestors? But what happens if you just enter the afterlife and return, does this make you a god among mortal men? In Joel Schumacher’s science fiction thriller, the question is raised and sharply dodged as the cast fumble around personal nightmares and repetitive resuscitation scenes.

Shortly after his greatest achievements, Lost Boys (1987) and St Elmo’s Fire (1985) he came back with this pious theological piece, which is dramatic but becomes silent and empty when it attempts to give reason and answer to it’s meaning, in fall fairness it’s hard to answer what lies after death but if you’re going to make a movie about it, you really should have a theoretical process in place.

A brilliant medical student attempts to discover the after life by flatl-ining himself and getting his best friends to resuscitate him, after all today is a good day to die!? So Nelson Wright (Sutherland) undergoes his radical experiment, while “dead” he experiences a sort of afterlife and has visions of a boy he bullied as a child. Not telling the others what he saw, he tells them there is something there and so each of them go under and each starts to experience haunting hallucinations but only of deeply traumatic experiences from their past and some of these come with physical attacks.

It’s an interesting premise for a director play with, literally anything can happen because no one can prove it either way, but with all of the real life accounts of what people have experienced after death, it feels a bit contrived that making up for shit you did as a kid to make you a better person is really the crux of it all.

As everyone involved is totally clueless to the negative forces connected to the experiment they each slowly go under to be killed and brought back but it’s made to look like a glorious awakening after a brave and frantic resuscitation, I’m not sure if we’re supposed to be on the edge of our seats wondering if they’ll ever make it back again in one piece because that magic died after the second session and become tedious. As the others begin to realise they have been lied to Nelson’s haunting gets really serious as attempts are made on his life but he keeps going back under to investigate fur ther, he’s a brilliant doctor but doesn’t seem to have a a shred of common sense but his dumb bravery does become effective and the effects that being the past back to life are really effective.

It’s a fleshed out mythical tale but one that doesn’t go far past its own trailer with excitement and story line. Raising a bunch of theological questions and not giving any new insights or expansion for those to look beyond with a new concept is a bit lame, and I don’t think I’m spoiling the movie as it carries something totally different to ponder and wonder about, it’s just not a thrilling as it could be but something that the remake couldn’t get right either and it probably has less floppy hair and over sized beige clothes in it!

Rating: 2/10

R: Lost Boys (1987), Torture Ship (1939)
L: After Death
5s: Keitfer Sutherland, Kevin Bacon
Vs: Flatliners Vs Flatliners

Post Discussion


One thought on “Flatliners (1990)”

  1. The film flatlines! Seriously, your review sums it all up – trying so hard to be something that is scary and intense but just falls FLAT

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