Plot: Courtney (Ellen Page) is on track for a medical career and a good life, but she is haunted by a dark event from her past. While driving with her little sister, Courtney took her eyes off the road to read a text and paid dearly for that moment of distraction, as a violent crash ensued. After spinning and flipping out of control, the car landed in the water and sank to the bottom. While Courtney was able to escape, her sister wasn’t as fortunate. In her medical work, she has tried to pinpoint how the brain handles death and why it seems to remain active for some people, who claim to have had near death experiences. She believes if the brain could be scanned as these near death moments unfold, perhaps the veil of the afterlife could be pulled back. She plans to stop her heart, scan her brain in the moments after death, then be brought back, with the help of her fellow medical rookies. The thought of being part of the team to unlock the afterlife proves to be a potent lure, so the experiment begins. After a close call with actual, permanent death, she is brought back and seems to have changed, with a sharper mind and an awakened sense of life. Soon the others want to take the trip to the other side as well, but is this just a mental jumpstart or are darker forces at work?
Entertainment Value: This is a fresh spin on the Flatliners concept, so I won’t bother to talk much about the original. But I will say the movies present wholly different cinema experiences, without question. This new Flatliners is watchable and is by no means a bad movie, but it does little to warrant praise or stand out in the genre. The movie follows the usual genre conventions of its era, with the horror being rooted in jump scares and loud audio cues. I do think some scenes pack some decent atmosphere, but there’s not much in terms of scares or genuine dread. The creepy kid, the eerie person right behind you, the sudden jumps, it is all part of the basic blueprint of 2010s horror. I do think what elevates Flatliners a little is the presence of Ellen Page, who brings some depth to her role and is fun to watch. The rest of the cast is fine, but tends to be more archetypes than any kind of unique, memorable characters. The spoiled rich guy, the spoiled rich girl, the child pressured by their parent, and of course, the suave guy who is the voice of reason and our dreamboat hero, they’re all here and paper thin. But Page turns in a solid effort and does enhance the scenes she takes part in. The finale proves to be a total let down however, which is a shame. So while not bad, Flatliners just doesn’t do enough to earn a real recommendation.
No nakedness. Some sex scenes, including one very enthusiastic cowgirl session, but no on screen nudity is involved. No blood either, just some spooky makeup effects and one fast pan through surgery in an operating room. The movie never seems to have any real need for gore however, so it isn’t missed. This one is a lot of talking and paranoid glances at fast moving images, more than rampant violence. As I said, this is basic 2010s horror in a nutshell, so the lack of bloodshed is no surprise. The dialogue is dramatic and serious, with no real camp or memorable lines. The writing is fine, aside from the horrible conclusion, but just never sticks out or does much with the characters, beyond Courtney. In terms of craziness, this one sticks part and parcel to the 2010s horror conventions, so not much wackiness. One scene has the flatliners cutting loose in a wild party, including Courtney smashing down a wall in her apartment, because you know, why not? So one wacky scene, otherwise no craziness in this one.
Overall Insanity: 0/10