Only a 1990 movie could have such a commercial and buzzy title and such an intriguing story. Flatliners takes the usual premise of a group of students experimenting with something and twists it into a potent narrative. And do not be afraid, this isn’t some philosophical snooze-fest that’s going to put you to sleep. The atmosphere is very vibrant and our young but competent cast did a terrific job. After all, the director of the movie is Joel Schumacher whose last movie was an eighties smash-hit, The Lost Boys.
And while the first half of Flatliners focuses on experiments, the second half is more about the characters and their choices. It turns into this psychological thriller with some horror elements. I don’t want to spoil the experience for you so I’ll just stop here and focus on the visuals. There’s something gothic and religious in the way the scenes are set up here. You could say that these students are playing god tan tan tan! Now, this also means that some of the scenes will look a bit too stylish for their own good but what can you do.
I guess the whole thing is balanced out by the visceral and ominous hospital setting. And I shouldn’t forget to mention excellent camerawork adding more intensity to already serious situations. After all, we’re talking about life and death here. And that’s why most of these students are working in poorly lit rooms that look like porn sets.
Nelson Wright is a medical student with a million-dollar idea. He wants to die. But not to die die but die and then be brought back to life. He hopes that this will finally resolve the question of what happens after we die. However, he cannot do this alone. So, Nelson convinces four of his friends, all of whom are also students, to go ahead with this crazy plan. A plan that is so crazy that it just might work.
One of the main reasons why Flatliners became so famous was its cast. We have the opportunity to see Kiefer, Julia, Kevin, William and Oliver in the same movie. This was also a movie that was easy to watch featuring a plot that you could bullshit around. You know, the kind of movie you take your girlfriend to see, convincing her you’re this true intellectual. Ahh, the arrogance of a beginning of a new decade.
Finally, if you’re looking for movies like Flatliners, I have two who sit at polar opposites of each other. While Dragonfly is more of a melodramatic slowburner, French masterpiece Martyrs will fuck you up for life. So, choose your poison and keep it moving.
Director: Joel Schumacher
Writer: Peter Filardi
Cast: Kiefer Sutherland, Julia Roberts, Kevin Bacon, William Baldwin, Oliver Platt, Kimberly Scott
Fun Stuff: Val Kilmer and Nicole Kidman almost ended up playing Nelson and Rachel.