• Guy Jeffries

Flatliners (1990) Review


Director: Joel Schumacher.

Starring: Kiefer Sutherland, Kevin Bacon, Julia Roberts, William Baldwin, Oliver Platt.

Schumacher was one of my favourite directors during the late 80's and 90's with films like Falling Down, The Lost Boys and Phone Booth (I know that was much later) though I can't say I was a fan of his Batman movies. And while Flatliners was quite creative, it was never a great film, but it was a film most people were familiar with back in the 90's though never achieving cult status in my opinion.

This was a shame because the story itself is quite intriguing; asking that all important question of what happens to us after we die. It was such a great idea some might expect it to be from a Stephen King novel or something from Dean Kootz, but no, it was originally written as a screenplay by Peter Filardi. This, unfortunately was Filardi's only real great achievement.

It's about a group of medical students who go in pursuit of scientific answers in near death experiences, risking not only their future profession and scholarship, but most importantly, their lives as well. I mean, how else can someone investigate the other side of life without actually dying. So each of them take turns in dying while the others promise to resuscitate them after the allotted time. Doing this, obviously has more of a negative effect when they each unknowingly bring back something from their dark secrets that manifest and haunts them in real life.

Each character has their own individual motives, beliefs and background which allows this film to have some creative freedom as we explore each of their experiences. Sutherland's Nelson being the rebellious pioneer, Bacon's Labraccio being the grounded atheist friend, Roberts seems to be the girl in a weird love triangle, Baldwin's characters closely resembles the perverse character he plays in Sliver and Platt is the cowardly conservative of the group. No one was particularly convincing with their characters apart from the boy from Nelson's vision who was amazing, Joshua Rudoy, who proves the point that children in horror flicks can be so sinister.

There's an interesting contrast between life and death, with life being purposefully dark which is aided with some black and white footage, and death, being, mixture of styles, but what stays constant throughout is the creative use of light during a transition indicating when things are going otherworldly. The production was particularly gothic in style creating one of the most eerie universities in movie history and encapsulates that grudgey tone of the ear.

The film is a little provocative, though it's not profound enough to really make us think more about it. It does insinuate that each and all of us have our own sins or regrets that could haunt us puts the question out there of what would you do to achieve atonement, but it fails to answer any real questions or conclude anything solid that this story really deserves. I hoping the sequel will elaborate on this good and possibly elevate to cult status. We shall see.

Running Time: 8

The Cast: 7

Performance: 6

Direction: 6

Story: 8

Script: 7

Creativity: 7

Soundtrack: 6

Job Description: 6

The Extra Bonus Point: 0

61% 6/10

#JoelSchumacher #KieferSutherland #KevinBacon #JuliaRoberts #WilliamBaldwin #OliverPlatt #KimberlyScott #HopeDavis #JoshuaRudoy #JamesNewtonHoward #JanDeBont #PeterFilardi