Sequels to acclaimed feature films should often be taken with a pinch of salt – however, director Niels Arden Oplev is no stranger to a psychological thriller. Following from the 1990 release of the same name, Flatliners tells of medical student Courtney Holmes (Ellen Page) and four other students as they embark on an experiment to stop their hearts – “flatlining” – for a short amount of time to discover what lies beyond death, if anything. Shortly after, we soon realise that there is more than meets the eye, as we cycle through each student and a detrimental mistake that has occurred in each of their lives. In turn, this results in the interference and revenge of the past coming fast and thick, being portrayed in a Paranormal Activity-esque way.
The plot is intriguing – the movie adheres conventionally to the psychological genre, yet the development of today’s science and technology may render the science fiction storyline a reality perhaps sooner than we may think. The immersive nature is enhanced further through Oplev’s use of close-up camera angles and haunting music choices. Naturally, the intimacy of the camera means that each actor must display intense emotions down to every detail. For thriller veteran Page, and science-fiction maestro Nina Dobrev, this is familiar territory and is therefore exhibited seamlessly throughout. Moreover, James Norton, Kiersey Clemons and Diego Luna delve into the versatility of their abilities, reaching comic highs and heartbreaking lows across the span of the film.
Whilst the expertise of the cast beams through, the picture is hindered by the anticlimactic finale, which leaves lacklustre solutions and several answers glazed over. The pace rushes into the peak of the plot seemingly early on, leaving little room for development throughout, soon resulting in the mildly uninspiring climax.
Theoretically, Flatliners has the potential to be revolutionary. It is unfortunate that the storyline barely differs from the original; thus it is difficult to decipher whether it is a sequel or a remake. With that aside, if looking through fresh eyes and with no preconceived notion of the original, the film is innovative and may bring forth new ideas and questions in today’s society. Nonetheless, with or without knowledge of the 1990 version, it is clear that the cast and ensemble are what brings the movie to its heights. Otherwise, it is a mediocre attempt at the horror genre with a sprinkling of psychological bursts every so often.
Flatliners is released nationwide on 29th September 2017.
Watch the trailer for Flatliners here: