“Flatliners” is a Mess with no Pulse

Flatliners

“Flatliners” is directed by Niels Arden Oplev and stars Ellen Page, Diego Luna, Nina Dobrev, James Norton, and Kiersey Clemons.  The film is a remake of the 1990 film with the same name and is about a group of students who all purposely stop their hearts for short periods of time to see what waits beyond in the afterlife, but after doing this experiment, they become haunted by things from their past.

This was a movie that looked pretty dumb from its trailers, but I have liked Ellen Page in her previous films, as well as Kiersey Clemons in “Dope,” so I came in hoping for the best, even though I knew nothing about the original.

The Good

Ellen Page and Diego Luna certainly gave the best performances in the film, even though they were simply okay.  I found Page to be the most relatable and the one that was able to generate any sort of emotion with her performance, and I wish that she was as much the lead as the film leads her on to be.  Luna is equally solid, as he is more of the straight man for the film, and I found he was able to bring the most wit and intelligence to his role.

There are some moments scattered throughout the film that had some semi-decent ideas.  The first time a character stops their heart is mildly tense and mildly intriguing, but these partial moments of good are overshadowed by a whole lot of bad.

The Bad

This movie is a damn mess in plot, in story elements, in character motives, in villains, in themes, in genres, in pretty much any way a movie can falter, “Flatliners” does it.  Starting with its plot, looking for explanations for much of anything that happens as far as science or reason is a lost cause, as director Niels Arden Oplev makes it abundantly clear that there is no thought being put into this movie at all.  People have died and been resuscitated back to life before, they didn’t get a superhuman memory or get chased down by their past, why are these bratty kids any different?

Even moving on from that, when considering the “villain” of this film, most of them are pretty stupid.  It is hard to tell the genre that “Flatliners” was hoping to fall into, because as a horror movie, it is quite simply not scary.  As a drama, there is no emotion that works at all, and as a thriller, there is not one scene that had me even close to the edge of my seat.  Because it so poorly lacks an identity, the film often just feels like a cluster of scenes with no real motivation of ever having a point, and it becomes very tedious very fast.

Speaking of tedious, about 70 percent of the runtime has to be weak attempts at building up scares.  The middle chunk and even the ending moments are all set up scenes of different individual characters getting mildly spooked over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again, and it does not work by any standards.

There is a scene shown literally at the start of the film, and this moment seems emotional when its shown, but it doesn’t really pay off, and it had me truly scratching my head.  This moment comes up later, as it is possibly the most emotional aspect of the film, so why on earth would you show your best cards even before the credits roll?  If this scene was cut and placed later on in the movie it could have made for a truly monumental moment and one that would make my jaw drop.  Instead, the garbage editing team decided it was needed right at the beginning, and it does not work whatsoever.

Let’s move on to the script: it’s trash.  The jokes are not funny, and each of the characters has such bland things to say at all times that it makes each of them incredibly unlikable, though the performances don’t really help the dialogue along.  Starting with Nina Dobrev, besides being a pretty face, she brings a brutally mediocre performance that adds nothing to the character.  Kiersey Clemons is either annoying or completely nonsensical depending on the scene, and it was really disappointing to see her major fall from grace, as she is terrific in “Dope,” and just not good here.  The worst has to be James Norton, and, whether it is character driven or not, I hated his face from the first line he delivers.  He is a douche and truly unlikable, and while he slightly improved as the film went on, he started at such a rock bottom place that I just could not recover from it.

This movie just kind of ends, as its resolution feels super weak and way too easy.  If that was all that the characters needed to do to resolve their problems, then this film should have been 40 minutes, which, in all honesty, it could have been.  This is such a long, overstretched, truly boring movie, that if you could cut a good hour out of its 110-minute runtime, maybe you have a mildly entertaining TV special for SyFy or something.

Conclusion

“Flatliners” is an awful film with bad performances, a convoluted and disastrously put together plot, unlikable characters, a terrible script, and garbage direction.  There is not much at all to like here, and while it was not the hardest of films to sit through, the movie is just so damn lazy and boring that it hurts to think that anyone is actually proud of this end product.  Not like anyone was going to see this thing, but don’t see “Flatliners,” it is dead on arrival.

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What did you think of “Flatliners”?  Comment below with your thoughts.


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