Running Time: 1 hour 50 minutes.
Director: Niels Arden Oplev
Ok, confession time.
As a self proclaimed film buff, I have to admit that I had never heard of the original Flatliners, Joel Schumacher’s 1990 movie. However after watching the 2017 version, and reading the reviews of those who are comparing to the original- I’m sort of glad I hadn’t seen that first.
When I first saw the trailer for Flatliners, I thought it looked amazing. I am not the biggest science fiction fan, but medical students taking an experiment too far I can get behind. There are no aliens or mystical forces at work here- this film takes liberties, but still manages to feel realistic. Besides, I would definitely class Flatliners as more of a horror movie anyway, which is never a bad thing. (Plus who could turn their nose up at a film starring James Norton?! I mean- I’m still not over his portrayal of War and Peace‘s Prince Andrei…)
The film itself is a lot more serious than I expected. The trailer plays up the daring natures of the students, addicted to the highs of flatlining- and I expected a Riot Club style gang of friends, culminating in their downfall.
However, Flatliners gets straight down to business. Courtney, played by Ellen Page, sees her first ‘ghost’ before anyone even flatlines. Then comes Jamie’s (James Norton) turn, and things get spooky whilst he’s still in the flatline. Each student is haunted by something personal- living or dead- something that they feel guilty about. Eventually this guilt drives them all to breaking point, and they have to figure out how to stop it.
The horror aspect of this film is done well. There are a few jump-out-your-seat moments, and things get downright creepy- Courtney’s dead sister burns a drawing of the two sisters, a non-existent screaming baby squirms under a blanket Jamie finds on his house boat. Ellen Page particularly plays horror well- her fear feels extremely real. This is probably the best performance I’ve seen from a normally deadpan Page so far. Nina Dobrev is also a shining light in this film- whilst Page masters fear, Dobrev plays guilt so convincingly you feel the shame of her mistake in the pit of your own stomach.
In terms of the production of the film- a few lines felt a bit clumsy, some scenes a little slow. The whole film had a low budget feel about it, which was odd for such a high concept film with some big names starring in it. If I had gone into the film expecting a lot, I might have been disappointed. However, after reading 1-2 star reviews pretty much across the board, I went in expecting the worst- and I was pleasantly surprised.
In summary- don’t let the negative reviews put you off. Flatliners is worth watching. I enjoyed it. Just don’t go in with the intentions of comparing it to the original- because from I have seen, that’s where the disappointment lies.