‘Flatliners’ lacks structure, necessary horror elements

A near-death experience is something no one wants to encounter. But the intrigue of witnessing the after-life is something that could make the experience worthwhile.

The movie, “Flatliners,” a sequel to the 1990 film with the same name, features Ellen Page as Courtney Holmes, a medical student who wants to learn about what people experience after they die.

With the help of her friends, Jamie (James Norton) and Sophia (Kiersey Clemons), Courtney begins an experiment in the basement of a hospital where she flatlines and experiences the afterlife.

Courtney’s view of the afterlife consists of her floating around the city and witnessing familiar places while also encountering areas that she had yet to experience. Courtney also sees orbs of energy and grand displays of bright lights before she is resuscitated at the last minute by her friends, who received help from their other colleagues, Ray (Diego Luna) and Marlo (Nina Dobrev).

After flatlining, Courtney starts to experience moments of complete happiness and high energy. She is able recall information that she never learned and can perform feats that she could not do before. Because of this, other characters experience flatlining and each gain a different experience, which will soon lead to a menacing downside.

The first thing I want to acknowledge is the poor acting in this movie. Before the flatlining takes place, the movie presents each character in the hospital setting interacting with each other.

It is difficult to tell whether these characters are close friends or just competing medical students who want to be the best among their colleagues. The past relationship between Courtney and Sophia is lightly touched on at the beginning and never revisited, while the relationship between Jamie and Ray remains ambiguous as they are joking around or at each other’s throats.

Some intense scenes or character interactions are ended abruptly or diminished with an unnecessary joke. Even when each character experiences moments of sudden uncontrollable joy after flatlining, the character interactions appear to be dull and forced. This type of acting and character development continues to get worse even after the horror element of the movie is introduced.

Besides the acting and the characters, the horror and thriller element is the worst part of the movie.

After experiencing the joys of flatlining, the characters begin to hallucinate morbid images and reminders of their past sins, which leads to a mysterious force that begins to hunt the characters.

These horror elements are dull and pointless for a few reasons. The terror and panic of the morbid imagery, along with the psychological threats the characters must face, are diminished due to the jump scares. One good thing is that the jump scares are not too abundant, but they still break up the tension whenever they appear midway in a creepy hallucination or in a chase scene.

Another reason for the lack of thrill is the organization of the movie. When the characters experience moments of pure happiness or peace due to flatlining, these moments happen right after the horror scenes, which break up the tension that was present and does not allow the panic to linger.

Never having watched the predecessor of this film, I think “Flatliners” is just not thrilling. The threat in the movie is silly, as it is casually mentioned that the things the characters are hallucinating are hunting them down, even though the imagery seems to be the prime focus of the horror. It is difficult to give credit to the scare factor of this PG-13 rated movie when the original was rated R and the overall horror is sloppily put together.

“Flatliners” has an interesting concept that is not utilized well enough, which leads to identity issues of whether the focus of the movie is the science fiction appeal or the horror. The movie is disorganized, and the story does not flow well before and during the horror scenes.

I give “Flatliners,” a 3 out of 10.


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