Review: Calling Time of Death on ‘Flatliners’

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Ellen Page, Diego Luna, Nina Dobrev, James Norton and Kiersy Clemons star in ‘Flatliners,’ a poorly done remake of the 1990 original.

If you have intentions of going to either West Acres Cinema or Marcus Century Cinema to spend $10.50 (or $5 on Tuesdays) to see the movie “Flatliners,” I highly suggest that you reevaluate your movie options.

The box office failure stars some well-known actors such as Ellen Page (“Juno”) and Diego Luna (“Rogue One”) and had an estimated $19 million production budget. Unfortunately, they did little to contribute to the movie’s success or shock it back to life to unfold and showcase an interesting and complex storyline. “Flatliners” made $2 million its opening weekend and scored a solid 2 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

I wish I could tell you that the worst thing about this movie is the lack of a plot line or failure in character development, but then I wouldn’t be doing my job.

The official general synopsis of the movie is as follows:

“Five medical students embark on a daring and dangerous experiment to gain insight into the mystery of what lies beyond the confines of life. The bold adventure begins when they trigger near-death experiences by stopping their hearts for short periods of time. As their trials become more perilous, each must confront the sins from their past while facing the paranormal consequences of journeying to the other side.”

The movie opens on Courtney (Ellen Page) driving with a girl who is presumably her younger sister. Courtney makes the mistake of checking her phone while driving, which ultimately results in her crashing her car into the side of a bridge and flipping it into a lake — resulting in the death of the younger sister and Courtney managing to get out of the sinking vehicle.

The movie flashes forward nine years and shines light on Courtney, who is studying to become a doctor, and her cohort of four other individuals, who also lack in the character development department. While the movie started out with a crashing bang, it failed to provide an explanation of the relation between Courtney and the younger girl, leaving you to assume that they were siblings. It does not shed light on the car crash until much later in the movie.

The overall premise of the movie is that young childhood trauma prompts Courtney to be interested in the concept of the afterlife. She has one of her coworkers stop her heart and then bring her back to life so she can see if there is indeed an afterlife of some sort.

Afterwards, she can magically play the piano and recall even the most minute details. Because of this, she suddenly starts to excel in areas that she had not been successful in before, prompting her coworkers to want to do the same procedure. Courtney had her heart stop for one minute, and her coworkers wanted to have theirs stopped for a longer amount of time.

In spite of their medical training, it comes as something of a surprise to our heroes to learn temporarily killing themselves might bring about unintended consequences. All of them begin to experience spooky visions and hallucinations. It takes them an agonizingly long time to figure out why this is happening. The film promptly devolves from a goofy ‘90s throwback into a thoroughly flat movie filled with cheesy jump scares and plenty of angry figures with dark eye makeup glowering in doorways.

The movie started out strong but ended dull. In other words, the original “Flatliners” movie should have had a “do not resuscitate” order attached to it to save the director and cast’s dignity.

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