Review: Flatliners

Last Updated on August 2, 2021

PLOT: Five medical students (Ellen Page, Nina Dobrev, James Norton, Kiersey Clemons and Diego Luna) try to unlock the mysteries of the afterlife by experimenting with flatlining. What could go wrong?

REVIEW: FLATLINERS is a remake of the 1990 Joel Schumacher cult classic. Love him or hate him, Schumacher was exactly the right person for it. The idea of med students deliberately flatlining is preposterous, but the glamour of the Brat Pack cast and the Gothic beauty of Jan de Bont’s cinematography, which meshed so well with Schumacher’s glam aesthetic, made it work.

The remake drops all that style, including the R-rating, to turn this into just another medical procedural with horror undertones. It’s a disaster from the first frame, and a horrific failure for Niels Arden Oplev, whose THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, DEAD MAN DOWN, and the pilot for “Mr. Robot”, suggested a certain boldness that’s utterly absent here. That Sony even thought this was theater-worthy is a shock, as it’s bad enough they would have been wise to burn it off on Netflix and save star Ellen Page some embarrassment.

A wonderful actress in the right role, Page is badly miscast, with her playing the Kiefer Sutherland (who has a short cameo ) part from the original, but lacking any sense of obsessiveness. She’s too much of a straight-arrow, and you never, for a second, believe she’s reckless enough to try such a harebrained scheme, nor charismatic enough to get her fellow students to risk jail and help her.

In a (stupid) departure from the original, all the students come back enhanced after flatlining, although they’re plagued by the (comparatively tame next the original) sins of their past. Kiersey Clemons was a mean girl, Nina Dobrev made a (very understandable) medical mistake that resulted in a death, James Norton was a cad to a girl he got pregnant, and Page…misses her dead sister?

Of the cast, only Diego Luna maintains any kind of dignity, being the only one smart enough not to go under (he’s a merge of the Kevin Bacon and Oliver Platt characters from the original), but this also leaves him totally removed from the supernatural hi-jinx, save for the fact that he’s hooking up with Dobrev.

What’s crazy is how little regard anyone here has for realism, with the students literally being brought back from dying, and immediately jumping in the sack with each other, going to raves (?), and worst of all, engaging in high speed car chases – for kicks. The ugly DV photography makes it look like amateur hour despite the high-ish (for this kind of movie) $20 million plus budget, with Blumhouse movies that cost a fraction of that looking so much better.

FLATLINERS didn’t screen for the press, but has still earned a 0% RT rating, something it really deserves, being an awful excuse for a horror film, and one of the worst in recent memory. In a time where legit efforts barely get seen, the fact that such a lame movie could get studio funding is confounding. Heads should roll.




Viewer Ratings (0 reviews)

Add your rating


About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.