flatlinersSony Pictures Home Entertainment
1990
R

“He said…he said it wasn’t such a good day to die.”

Hot-shot medical students embark on a series of daring experiments to get a peek at the face of death. Stopping their hearts until the vital signs register as flat lines, they then revive the subject.  The group doesn’t count on bringing anything back from their near-death experiences, but each one does.

Back before he became known as The Guy Who Ruined Batman in the 1990s, Joel Schumacher had a pretty good reputation as a movie maker, counting St. Elmo’s Fire and the post-modern vampire classic The Lost Boys in his list of well-known flicks.  In 1990 he entered the realm of post-modern Mad Scientist movies by way of Flatliners.

I watched Flatliners a year after its release in theaters, when it was then newly released on VHS.  Rented it, watched it, promptly forgot about it.  I was also 17, and had the attention span of…well, a 17-year-old kid.  Flatliners was a bit more cerebral than what I was accustomed to in movie watching.

Having rewatched Flatliners recently, though, I must say that the movie is a pretty good neo-Gothic thriller, involving a bunch of young medical students obsessed with life after death.  The cast itself is rather impressive, sporting the likes of Kiefer Sutherland, Kevin Bacon, Julia Roberts, William “Billy” Baldwin, and the highly underrated Oliver Platt as the cast of post-Brat Pack star types, all of which are at their peak here.  The story itself is, surprisingly, not so much about the exploration of life after death, but of seeking forgiveness for your past sins, which I found to be unexpected but still rather intriguing.

Those looking for straight-up horror might be a bit disappointed, as Flatliners is more of a psychological thriller.  For what it is, though, Flatliners is a smartly crafted movie that has held up right nicely over the years.  Recommended watching.

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