It seems that pretty much anything and everything is fair game for a remake, reboot, reimagining or rejig these days, and so the news that a new take on 1990’s Flatliners was in development was met with a nonplussed reaction by most. Arriving in cinemas last year, that redo is now set to arrive on Blu-ray, DVD, and digital download, with the bigger question, of course, being whether the film is actually any good. So, let’s find out.
For those not familiar with either this picture or its 1990 counterpart, the basic premise centres on a group of medical students – Ellen Page, Diego Luna, Nina Dobrev, James Norton, and Kiersey Clemons – who have the ambitious aim of exploring what happens after death. Each taking turns at having their hearts stopped, when brought back to life each of the group are not only given increased intelligence and brain capacity, but they also soon become haunted by the sins of their respective pasts as nightmarish visions begin to plague them. With the terror of these hauntings only intensifying, the group are left with no choice but to face up to their bad decisions and attempt to right these wrongs before further tragedy strikes.
As a psychological horror, Flatliners does indeed offer up a few good and effective jump scares as the plot unravels and the terror level is raised, and it’s also entertaining to see the group become increasingly cocksure and arrogant before the horror begins to amplify. Performance-wise, all the principal players do well with what they're given, with Nina Dobrev and James Norton particularly stealing the show as their characters begin to have their own backstories fleshed out. For fans of the ’90 movie, there’s also a role here for original star Keifer Sutherland. Despite Sutherland himself claiming that he was reprising his Nelson Wright role and that this new Flatliners would actually be a sequel to that film, instead he’s here in a completely new role as he serves as a mentor figure to the group, firmly cementing this as definitely a remake and definitely not a sequel.
Let’s face it, the original Flatliners wasn’t actually all that great, and that’s sadly something that is applicable to this redo. Don’t get us wrong, it’s not totally horrendous – or dare we puntastically say ‘dead on arrival’ – just not particularly anything worth going out of your way for; ultimately posing the question of why this remake was given the go-ahead in the first place.
What we end up with is a relatively paint-by-numbers effort that only rarely surprises yet is decent enough to pass a few hours. The atmospheric tension and horror is rather impressive when it arrives, but you can't help but feel that Flatliners would've been far more effective and an all-round better movie if it would've fully embraced the horror aspect stronger and sooner, leaving you with a sense of what could've been.
Where the rest of the disc is concerned, we have several featurettes included as bonus content – the pick of the bunch being the Reviving a Cult Classic featurette which takes a look back at the 1990 film while similarly showcasing the production of this 2017 take.
Special Features: Four featurettes / Trailers / Deleted and extended scenes
FLATLINERS / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: NILES ARDEN OPLEV / SCREENPLAY: BEN RIPLEY / STARRING: ELLEN PAGE, DIEGO LUNA, NINA DOBREV, JAMES NORTON, KIERSEY CLEMONS, KIEFER SUTHERLAND / RELEASE DATE: JANUARY 22ND (DIGITAL), FEBRUARY 5TH (BLU-RAY, DVD)