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"FLATLINERS"
(2017) (Ellen Page, Diego Luna) (PG-13)


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QUICK TAKE:
Horror-Thriller: Five young medical students take part in an unsanctioned medical experiment to stop their hearts to see what is on the "other side" before being resuscitated. Once revived, though, bad things start happening to each.
PLOT:
Obsessed with what happens to us after we die, medical student Courtney (ELLEN PAGE) has been secretly working on an experiment in which she will stop her heart and have some colleagues monitor her brainwave activity before they resuscitate her a minute or two later. She convinces fellow student and randy playboy Jamie (JAMES NORTON) and stressed-out classmate Sophia (KIERSEY CLEMONS) to monitor and revive her. When complications develop, Jamie and Sophia go get the older, smarter Ray (DIEGO LUNA) to save her life.

It's not long before another medical student, Marlo (NINA DOBREV) finds out about Courtney's experiment and wants in, especially when it appears that Courtney is able to retain knowledge better than she ever did before. She, Jamie, and Sophia all eventually "flatline" and are brought back to life by Ray. But, then, strange things start happening to each of the four. Courtney feels like she is being stalked by the ghost of her dead sister. Jamie sees visions of a former girlfriend he once impregnated and subsequently abandoned at an abortion clinic. Sophia is haunted by memories of a girl she bullied back in prep school. And Sophia is forced to confront a past incident in which she accidentally killed a man by giving him the wrong medication, and then falsified his autopsy report.

When one of them dies tragically, the other four have to find how to stop the dark forces that seem to be swirling around them and preying on their guilty consciences.

OUR TAKE:4.5 out of 10
For films not screened for the reviewing press in advance of release, we offer just a few paragraphs of commentary and criticism.

I actually have no problem with Hollywood remaking old movies as long as they remake old movies that could have been good and just weren't. Leave cool flicks like "Poltergeist" and "Fright Night" and "Carrie" alone. Go and redo something like well "Flatliners." That movie from 1990 could have been good. It had Julia Roberts and Kiefer Sutherland and Kevin Bacon. The concept was sound. It had some good atmospherics. It was just meh OK.

Flash forward 27 years later (for some, that's a big "Gulp!") and now we have the "Flatliners" remake. And I'm sorry to report that it is also meh just OK. Blank face emoji. #AlreadyForgettingIt. Once again, four medical students decide to experiment with near-death experiences by purposefully stopping their hearts, measuring their brainwave activities post-mortem, then being revived a minute or two minutes or five minutes later depending on the level of risk-taking of each student. Each one has a dark secret in his/her past. Years earlier, Courtney (Ellen Page) was looking down at her phone while driving, crashed her car, and killed her little sister in the process. Also years earlier, Jamie (James Norton) got his girlfriend pregnant and then abandoned her at the abortion clinic, never to call again. Not so many years earlier, Marlo (Nina Dobrev) accidentally killed a patient while on duty and then falsified the autopsy report. And a while back, Sophia (Kiersey Clemons) hated a school rival so much that she hacked into her social media account and distributed semi-naked photos of her to the student body.

When each of them is resuscitated, they are all better in a certain way. Courtney can play the piano like a pro and remember complex medical text. Jamie can make on-the-spot diagnoses like a career doctor. And Marlo and Sophia? Well, apparently they develop the sex drives of wild minx cats in heat. It's all good. They also get stalked by malevolent forces from "the Other Side" intent on making them pay for their misdeeds.

When the movie focuses on the characters, there are some really good moments here. When it goes all "Final Destination" in its second half, it's just tedious. Then, it takes a ponderous turn late and goes all wishy-washy, and you just want it to be over especially when the focus turns to one of the lesser of the five characters as the film stumbles to find some semblance of a climax.

My favorite character is Diego Luna's Ray, a medical student who doesn't believe in what the other four are doing, is the smartest of all of them, and decides to be the one to handle the resuscitations. I always like when you get a smart character even when he or she is plopped down into a dumb movie. Also plopped down is an actor from the first film in an extended cameo that could have been more. But that's ultimately the problem with this film and the original. Both could have been so much more. I rate this a 4.5 out of 10. (T. Durgin)




Reviewed September 29, 2017 / Posted September 29, 2017


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