PG-13 Dir: Niels Arden Oplev | Sony | 1h 48min
Plot: What’s it about?
While it’s regarded now as something of a cult classic, the original Flatliners is hardly a cherished film to many. Still, it was perfectly watchable and served its premise as it should. That didn’t stop the powers that be from green-lighting this 2017 remake. I was slightly intrigued to see how this version would play out, but the abysmal reviews kept me (and most of the general public really) from seeing it in theaters. It currently stands at an awful 5% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Sad to say that while I didn’t downright hate it, it really is quite bad, and that low rating can hardly be defended.
The film begins with medical student Courtney (Ellen Page) driving along a bridge with a passenger with her. She’s looking down at her cellphone before being warned of what lies ahead. There has been an accident and she swerves to avoid it, but the car rolls into the water. The passenger doesn’t make it, and we flash forward to years later. The passenger, we learn later was her sister. This plays into Courtney’s fascination with the afterlife. She wants to know what happens after we die. After convincing some friends, they join her in her experiment. In an unused hospital room, they find a way to stop their heart for sixty seconds while recording the brain activity before being revived. What could go wrong with that, right? Well a lot, because there wouldn’t be a film if things went well. That might be a miracle to some, but I digress. The other characters we meet are fellow students, Jaimie (James Norton), Sophia (Kiersey Clemons), Ray (Diego Luna) and Marlo (Nina Dobrev). After each character experiments with flatlining, they suffer the consequences in various ways. Courtney, at first is able to play the piano and answer class questions with ease. Some of the other start to experience visions as well.
The cast does fine in their respective roles here, but the film quickly goes off the rails and never recovers. It’s neither intriguing nor frightening. Actually, it’s downright boring most of the time. It’s hard to see what attracted anyone to this project. It goes for routine scares that we’ve seen in countless horror films. It also doesn’t help that the characters are paper thin and we don’t care enough about them. With no investment in the story or characters, we can only sit there hoping something hooks us. It doesn’t. I thought that maybe this would become a guilty pleasure and at least offer mild entertainment value, but that’s not the case. It’s a dull and lifeless film.
Video: How’s it look?
We get an impressive AVC encoded 2.39:1 transfer that serves the film well. It can range from various colors and visuals, to simpler colors. Inside a hospital isn’t always the most eye pleasing atmosphere, but things are presented well. Details remained strong, clarity is fine and the print seemed clean as well. The film might stink, but the transfer is more than appropriate.
Audio: How’s it sound?
Also strong is the DTS HD track. You might need to keep the remote handy as the volume increases and decreases often. Vocals are fine and active and the rear channels stay fairly engaged throughout. The film might flatline, but the track is very much alive. See what I did there?
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Deleted & Extended Scenes – About 12 minutes’ worth, but nothing memorable.
- Four Featurettes – There’s nothing too enthralling about these four run-of-the-mill featurettes that include some behind the scenes footage coupled with a montage of scenes from the film.
- Reviving a Cult Classic – While not a great feature, this is probably the best one on the disc. It talks about the original and the approach to this version. We get film clips of the original film and cast and crew interviews.
- Making the Rounds – Is another standard behind the scenes look that’s largely promotional. You can safely skip this one.
- Just What the Director Ordered – A very brief feature discussing the director’s style and intentions for the film. It’s largely promotional and forgettable.
- The Ultimate Question – This speaks of the moral question at the core of the film, and what the actors think of it. It’s decent, but nothing too in depth.
The Bottom Line
The jokes are aplenty with this title. You can say it’s D.O.A., you can say the film flatlines. You name it, but the bottom line is this one is a real stinker. I thought just maybe it’d offer some cheap thrills or even become a guilty pleasure, but it never does. It’s lifeless, boring and has no reason to exist. Skip it.