Flatliners (2017 film)
Flatliners is a 2017 American science fiction psychological horror drama film directed by Niels Arden Oplev and written by Ben Ripley. The film is both a stand-alone sequel to and remake of the 1990 film of the same name, and stars Ellen Page, Diego Luna, Nina Dobrev, James Norton, and Kiersey Clemons. It follows five medical students who attempt to conduct experiments that produce near-death experiences.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Niels Arden Oplev|
|Screenplay by||Ben Ripley|
|Story by||Peter Filardi|
by Peter Filardi
|Music by||Nathan Barr|
|Edited by||Tom Elkins|
|Distributed by||Sony Pictures Releasing|
|Box office||$45.2 million|
Sony Pictures released the film in the United States on September 29, 2017. It was negatively reviewed by critics, who generally remarked that it repeated the problems of the original in failing to do justice to its interesting premise, but it was a moderate box office success, grossing $45 million worldwide on a $19 million budget.
A medical student, Courtney, is obsessed with the idea of the afterlife. She invites fellow students Jamie and Sophia to join her in an experiment, in an unused hospital room: using defibrillation to stop her heart for sixty seconds while recording her brain. She assures them they would not be held responsible for any accidents. Sophia is against this, but Jamie does it anyway. After sixty seconds, they are unable to revive her. Fellow student Ray helps them resuscitate her. Marlo, a rival of Ray, arrives and learns of the experiment.
Courtney begins to recall memories of past events such as her grandmother's recipe for bread. Courtney experiences increased intelligence and euphoria, being suddenly able to play the piano after 12 years and answer questions in class perfectly. Envious, Jamie flatlines, but has a disturbing near-death experience as he meets his ex-girlfriend. Marlo and Sophia follow suit and flatline, for an increasing number of minutes. During Sophia’s turn they are nearly caught and flee the hospital and arrive at a party. Courtney and Jamie start seeing visions of past mistakes, but do not tell the others.
Those who flatlined experience visions: Courtney is haunted by her sister Tessa, who died in a car crash she caused because she was using her phone. Jamie is haunted by the baby of his ex-girlfriend who he got pregnant and begged to get an abortion. Marlo is haunted by a man named Cyrus who died when she accidentally mixed up his medication, and Sophia is haunted by a girl named Irina whose life she ruined out of jealousy by hacking her phone and sending out her nudes. This allowed Sophia to become valedictorian.
Courtney, traumatised by her visions, records a message apologising for the consequences and admitting that her interest in flatlining was due to the death of her sister, not for scientific discovery. She falls to her death from the fire escape of her apartment building after her sister's ghost pushes her off. The others are devastated when they learn of Courtney’s death, and realize they may be implicated if anyone discovers their experiments. After attempting to remove all notes and evidence from Courtney’s apartment, Marlo is sent to the morgue to find Courtney’s phone. She is once again haunted by visions. On his boat, Jamie again hears the cries of a baby and a woman weeping. He falls out of his boat and swims to the dock where a figure stabs him in his hand.
The group watches Courtney's recording and find out that she had encountered similar hauntings. They come clean to the mistakes they made and come to the conclusion that the hauntings they're experiencing are hallucinations because of guilt from their sins, not paranormal beings. The only one who didn't flatline, Ray, initially disbelieves what's happening.
The group takes action to stop the hallucinations by fixing their past mistakes. Sophia visits Irina to apologize, which Irina accepts. Jamie visits his ex-girlfriend and discovers she didn't get an abortion, but kept the baby; he apologizes and promises to provide for his son. Ray and Marlo get into a fight when Ray finds out Marlo covered up the real reason Cyrus died and she refuses to come clean. Marlo hallucinates being suffocated while driving and crashes her car. Tired of being haunted by her hallucinations, Marlo flatlines on her own in the hope of asking forgiveness of Cyrus. Ray, Sophia and Jamie rush to stop her. They resuscitate Marlo after she sees an apparition of Courtney, who tells Marlo that she needs to forgive herself. Marlo, Ray, Sophia and Jamie reminisce about Courtney and celebrate their friendships in the little restaurant they hang out at, where there is a performance of the piano piece that Courtney played. Jamie proposes a toast, honoring Courtney.
- Ellen Page as Courtney Holmes
- Diego Luna as Ray
- Nina Dobrev as Marlo
- James Norton as Jamie
- Kiersey Clemons as Sophia Manning
- Kiefer Sutherland as Dr. Barry Wolfson / Nelson Wright[a]
- Beau Mirchoff as Brad
- Madison Brydges as Tessa Holmes
- Miguel Anthony as Cyrus Gudgeon
- Jenny Raven as Irina Wong
- Charlotte McKinney as Olicvia
- Wendy Raquel Robinson as Mrs. Jean Manning
- Steve Byers as Marlo's Brother
- Janet Porter as Doctor Rose
- Jeremiah Sird as Dr. Velez
In October 2015, Ellen Page was cast in the film. In February 2016, Diego Luna was added, with Nina Dobrev joining in April. In May 2016, Kiersey Clemons and James Norton signed on for the film.
In July 2016, it was announced that Kiefer Sutherland, who starred in the original, would return in the new film. Sutherland later disclosed that he was reprising his role from the original film, adding that the new film is actually a sequel rather than a remake. Despite the announcement, Sutherland played a character with a different name than in the original, with no reference to the specific events of the previous film. In July 2016, Charlotte McKinney also joined the cast.
Principal photography began in early July 2016 in Toronto, Ontario primarily at Cinespace Film Studios' Kipling Avenue facility, and concluded on September 7. The film went into post-production on October 4.
Flatliners grossed $16.9 million in the United States and Canada, and $28.1 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $45 million, against a production budget of $19 million.
In North America, the film was released alongside American Made and 'Til Death Do Us Part, as well as the wide expansion of Battle of the Sexes, and was projected to gross $8–12 million from 2,552 theaters in its opening weekend. It ended up debuting to $6.6 million, finishing 5th at the box office; even before factoring in inflation, the number was lower than the $10 million opening of the original film in 1990. In its second weekend the film dropped 42%, grossing $3.6 million.
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On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 4% based on 76 reviews and an average rating of 3.53/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Flatliners falls flat as a horror movie and fails to improve upon its source material, rendering this reboot dead on arrival." On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating to reviews, the film has a weighted average score of 27 out of 100 based 20 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B–" on an A+ to F scale, while PostTrak reported filmgoers gave it a 66% overall positive score and a 46% "definite recommend".
Criticizing the repetitiveness of the scenes and lack of tension, Peter Travers of Rolling Stone called the film "even more witless and stupefyingly dull than the original." He gave it one star. Ryan Porter gave it one-and-a-half stars in The Star, saying that like the original, it takes a solid premise and fails to develop it in an interesting or exciting way. He said the film's one positive is the unintentional humor which results from the stupidity of several scenes and the earnestness with which the actors approach them. Matt Zoller Seitz similarly said that "[the] premise [of the original Flatliners], which could have opened the door to a visionary work of sci-fi horror, settled into a sort of gothic self-help drama groove, with the medical students realizing that the seemingly supernatural goings-on triggered by their experiments in 'flatlining' were manifestations of their past misdeeds. Director Niels Arden Oplev's remake ... sticks to that template, changing key details here and there while embracing a style that stirs every current horror movie visual cliche into a jagged paste." He also remarked that the obvious effort given by the entire cast could not overcome the contrived and clichéd scares and melodrama. Both Travers and Porter derided the visual effect of the afterlife scenes as cheap-looking and silly.
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