Flatliners leads with a very compelling concept that I believe would have been just as compelling before the original 1990 film, but the execution is dreadful and it’s a lifeless film from the get-go. The film follows a group of medical students who conduct heart-stopping experiments on themselves in order to unlock the questions of the afterlife. But they are then haunted by mysterious occurrences linked to their past. This reboot is an absolute bore from beginning to end, every character is just one-note and poorly written to the point where there is nothing about them to care about. A small handful of the performances are ok but no-one is given anything engaging to work with as the dialogue is generic and the plot is predictable. All this movie shows is that you can make a successfully intriguing trailer about a shit movie.
The characters are without a doubt the glue that should be holding this entire film together, if you don’t buy into the characters it makes it hard to give a shit about anything happening around them….. That’s the main problem here amongst the many; the characters are all very basic and simply written with hardly a backstory and barely a distinct personality to latch on to. I can’t even tell you a single character’s name without looking it up. No character feels like a real person and they almost don’t act like people too, some of their reactions to a number of events don’t feel natural or consistent. And the movie doesn’t do anything to make me buy into their friendship, they’re supposed to be students who apparently all work together on a daily basis yet there is no chemistry between any of them.
The performances from Diego Luna (Ray), Ellen Page (Courtney), Kiersey Clemons (Sophia), and even Nina Dobrev (Marlo) somewhat aren’t bad, they’re ok at best but there’s no strong moments for them to exhibit their talents. Clemons I loved in Dope (2015) so this just feels like a misstep for her whereas Nina Dobrev needs to start choosing some better roles. Between this and xXx: Return of Xander Cage (2017) the Vampire Diaries star has to find something damn good soon.
The plot of this movie progresses at a relatively mediocre pace but it’s just absolutely boring to watch. And when dealing with this concept of dying and being bought back to life this should lead to some pretty intense sequences but I was astounded by how little investment I had in the story. And that once again goes back to having no investment in the characters. Plus the focus of what this film wants to be is very much in two places and it doesn’t balance them well at all. The first half is very distinctly a sci-fi drama/thriller with pretty much no horror elements present whatsoever. And then at some point in the second act it just flips and all of a sudden it’s a supernatural horror movie that exhibits a completely different tone to the first half. It’s jarring as fuck and none of the subsequent horror scenes are effective, its execution is cliche and it rushes to a halt in the final 15 minutes….. which at that point I was thankful of.
So in the end, no-one needs to see this movie, there is pretty much nothing noticeably good about it, even the performances are just ok. I will admit, although the horror doesn’t work there is one moment I will commend for not using a simple jumpscare and being relatively eye-catching. The only thing this had going for it is the premise but you can admire the premise without watching the movie because it isn’t executed in an engaging way. It’s a lifeless, dull movie from beginning to end with no redeemable qualities except for maybe a cameo appearance that will allow you to be like “hey! that’s that guy” and then forget about him. Unlike the characters in this movie, Flatliners should have died and never been bought back to life.