‘Flatliners’: New life to old script

A group of young medical students take it upon themselves to analyze the mind experiences of a person after they die. What starts as an experiment with the potential to be a breakthrough in modern medical science turns into a fight for survival.

The film opens with four students including an overstressed perfectionist Sophia (Kiersey Clemons), suave party boy Jamie (James Norton), career-driven Marlo (Nina Dobrev) and level-headed voice of reason Ray (Diego Luna) being drawn in by brilliant but traumatized Courtney (Ellen Page) for an extracurricular experiment. Courtney explains that she wants to reveal the answer of the “white light” phenomenon that a dying person is said to experience.

How to achieve this? She volunteers to have her colleagues stop her heart for a short period of time, then bring her back, all while having her brain scanned for activity. As expected, there is apprehension but as soon as Courtney injects herself with the substance to slow her heart rate, they put her under (after a charge of heart defibrillators). We see Courtney’s out-of-body experience, but rather than arriving at the pearly gates to meet St. Peter, she sees moments from her past as well as her little sister Tessa (Madison Brydges) who was lost in a car accident.

 Ellen Page leads her fellow medical students in a study on the effect of death in 'Flatliners.'

Ellen Page leads her fellow medical students in a study on the effect of death in 'Flatliners.'

No sooner after being brought back does Courtney feel rejuvenated and even more focused to the surprise of her friends who all start wanting to partake in the experiment. Each go under and experience past moments. Things take a turn soon after they’re brought back when they see visions of people they have done wrong, whether it was a student they bullied, an abandoned lover or a patient who died due to a medical mistake.

The visions also turn violent as the students are attacked at random, then see that it is all in their heads. In wanting to exorcise their demons, the group seeks to atone for any wrongdoing before they end up victims of their own pasts.

This film is a remake of a 1990 film starring Kiefer Sutherland, Julia Roberts, William Baldwin, Kevin Bacon and Oliver Platt and was intended to be a heavier drama with spiritual undertones but this version is a supernatural thriller that actually enhances the excitement of after-effects into a journey to the unknown. Sutherland returns along with the original producer, Michael Douglas.

There was speculation as to whether this film was to be a sequel, but that turned out to be wrong. Sutherland plays a new role as the tough-as-nails doctor in charge of the group. While this film may not join the ranks of the greatest films of all time, it certainly makes for an amusing thrill ride of a movie.

GRADE: B-