Writer: Peter Filardi (Screenplay)
Starring: Kiefer Sutherland, Julia Roberts, Kevin Bacon, William Baldwin, Oliver Platt, Kimberly Scott
Plot: Five medical students experiment on “near death” experiences that involve past tragedies until the dark consequences begin to jeopardize their lives.
Tagline – Some lines shouldn’t be crossed.
Runtime: 1 Hour 55 Minutes
There may be spoilers the rest of the review
Verdict: Brilliant Sci-Fi Horror
Story: Flatliners starts as medical student Nelson (Sutherland) brings together four other students, recently suspended David Labraccio (Bacon), Dr Rachel Mannus (Roberts) who is interested in what happens in the afterlife, Dr Hurley (Baldwin) an arrogant soon to be married womaniser and Randy Steckle (Platt) who is the most paranoid about the experiment. The five work on the idea of trying to figure out what happens in the afterlife by medically creating death for a moment in time.
When Nelson goes first he only goes for a minute and he starts having living nightmares, but the success of his trip leads to a bidding war between the others who dive into longer stretches on the other side but when they come back they also start suffering nightmares from their past, is this experiment immoral or are they really just losing their minds?
Thoughts on Flatliners
Characters – Nelson is the visionary medical student that believes he has found a way to search the afterlife with near death experiences, he brings the team of students together to work his experiment but isn’t ready for the side effects which haunt him. Dr Rachel Mannus has been working with her patience to understand and ease them into the next life but joins the study so she can experience it herself. David Labraccio is a best medical student but gets himself in trouble because of his actions, he joins the study as the sceptic to an afterlife but seems to be the smartest when dealing with any potential consequences. Joe is the womaniser that is due to get married, we don’t learn too much more from him other than that he isn’t the strongest moral compass. Randy is the one that doesn’t go under, he refuses to go under but will do the right thing to keep the team alive. The ones that go under must deal with their pasts which have come back to haunt them in a new deadly way.
Performances – In the performances we have three of the hottest actors of the late 80s and early 90s, Kiefer Sutherland is great in the leading role of this film being the questionable morale guy. Julia Roberts as the strong independent co-lead shows the skills she had while Kevin Bacon brings all the screen presence he had at that time for the good moral character. William Baldwin and Oliver Platt do both make great supporting performances too.
Story – The story here offers up the question of is there life after death and if you were to come back how would that effect your life. This is a question that still gets asked today because there is no proven proof of what is on the other side which does make this film still stand the test of time. I am unsure of the medical accuracy of this film but that isn’t the most important because by the end it plays into the idea of people needing to learn about overcoming their sins to be able to pass over. The story does have a good pace about it even if Joe and Randy do fall out of the bigger picture for the second half of the film.
Horror/Sci-Fi – Imagine your greatest sin come back to haunt you, it could be anything and this is where this film shines on the horror scale. The sci-fi elements come from the idea of being able to see into the afterlife.
Settings – The settings show us the underworld like location for the experiment to take place in and the different backgrounds the students have all come from.
Special Effects – The effects used in the movie did get an Oscar nomination and you can see why, they still do hold up today.
Award Nominations: Nominated for One Oscar
Box Office: $61 Million
Budget: $26 Million
Final Thoughts – This is one of my favourite films, it does give us a chance to experience moral questions about life and death as well as offering us the idea of what could happen if we don’t learn to forgive ourselves for our previous sins.
Overall: Horror film that horror fans must re-visit.