Cross the line. Death will follow you back!
Directed by: Niels Arden Oplev
Written by: Peter Filardi (story) Ben Ripley (Screenplay)
Cast: Ellen Page, Diego Luna, Nina Dobrev, James Norton, Kiersey Clemons, Kiefer Sutherland
The Josh chop: When I was younger I remember watching a lot of movies that were not age appropriate for a little boy. One of those flicks I remember was Flatliners. I remember it being slow and boring but it got scary a couple of times. At least that’s how I remember it. Honestly I probably haven’t watched it since I was about six or seven which was the benefit of going into this film. I had an idea about the film but not a clear picture. Perfect. As I began watching, I noticed some familiar themes (of course) yet slowly but surely I felt like I was watching a different film other than something titled: Flatliners.
Courtney (Page) is a young medical student at a prestigious medical college. She along with four other interns are on their way to become doctors, if they can manage to get through the rigors of intern life. Late nights which seem to last forever and thousands of diagnoses to remember and try to pin correctly with each patient that comes through.
Courtney’s story is told in a flashback at the beginning of the film. Courtney and her sister get into a car wreck over a bridge because Courtney was texting (I felt like this was a glare in the direction of millennials and teens). The car tumbles down into the river below and Courtney barely escapes the wreckage while her sister in not as fortunate. Oddly the connection between this event and where Courtney is now, don’t really seem to tie together.
Courtney is a bit of a loner and not one to interact well like the other interns do. While in the library she comes across Sophia, (Clemons) a nervous wreck of an intern who is just trying to keep up with the fast paced life that is a med student. We learn that Sophia and Courtney used to be pretty decent friends. They used to hang out and share in the same workouts as one another, but Courtney has distanced herself over the last year.
The other interns are met through very short scenes in which we try to learn about their personalities. Marlo (Dobrev) and Ray (Luna) are go getters and seem to make their internships a competition. Jamie (Norton): a good looking smart kid is a total player with the ladies and a partier. It really is a wonder how he’s where he is honestly. I feel like we don’t really get to know these characters very well before they all die. (Whoops! Spoiler?)
Courtney invites Sophia and Jamie for a rendezvous in a part of the medical building that is only used for emergency situations. Sophia meets with Courtney puzzled on why they are meeting while Jamie thinks he’s about to get some action from both girls. Courtney explains the reason for the meet up – She wants Jamie and Sophia to stop her heart for one minute then revive her. She plans on using a brain scanner to record her activity while she’s, well, dead. All this to discover or prove that there is an afterlife.
Jamie sees how this could be a breakthrough in science and wants in. Before we know it, Courtney’s heart has stopped and she enters the astral plane. She experiences flying and sees what she can only explain as pure energy. As Sophia and Jamie try to revive Courtney they are failing. In comes Ray, who’s experience as an EMT make him perfect for the CPR needed to revive Courtney.
After Courtney is revived she feels like a new person. She can now play the piano like a pro (when she couldn’t before), and she remembers the most obscure diagnoses that nobody else could have remembered. The others can’t believe it, and now they want in on the untapped potential they possess deep down. One by one they go under and experience different things. Some things in their afterlife visions seem to be a bit off and almost frightening, but it gets kind of pushed aside. Soon the frightening visions start to haunt each of them, and they become physically and mentally attacked by what they saw.
The rest of the film played out like what I could only relate to something along the lines of Final Destination. Weird stuff happens, and it seriously felt like they could die at any moment by some sort of coincidence. I really disliked the rest of the film, because of this. It felt as if they were trying to escape the clutches of an unseen ghost that manifested itself as bizarre occurrences. I really did expect them to start dying one by one from freak accidents.
Flatliners really fell flat for me (pun intended). Ms. Page’s portrayal of Courtney left me wanting more. I really felt like I was watching someone act in a movie – unlike when we saw her in Hard Candy. It didn’t feel real, and she seemed stiff and boring. Her character’s backstory never really went anywhere, and the only clue to why she wanted to explore the existence of an afterlife was a short scene where she was googling “Afterlife theories.” I’m guessing to try to communicate or see that her sister is ok. I don’t know?
The climax was a bit of a letdown as it just sort of happened, and then everything was back to normal. We sort of get closure on the whole experience, but not really. It’s meant to be left to the imagination (I think) which is fine, but it didn’t really work out how I feel like we were supposed to understand it. All in all – if you’ve seen the 1990’s version of Flatliners you won’t enjoy 2017’s version of it. In fact you may or may not enjoy this version either way. I had higher hopes for this film, and even with Sutherland’s cameo/bit part which was pretty uneventful, the movie didn’t exactly leave me excited to explore my mind with what the afterlife could be. That really is a shame.