FLATLINERS (1990)

FLATLINERS, Kevin Bacon, Kiefer Sutherland, Julia Roberts, Oliver Platt, William Baldwin, 1990

Directed By: Joel Schumacher
Written By: Peter Filardi
Director Of Photography: Jan De Bont
Editor: Robert Brown 


 Cast: Kiefer Sutherland, Julia Roberts, William Baldwin, Kevin Bacon, Oliver Platt, Hope Davis, Kimberly Scott, Aeryk Egan

Medical students begin to explore the realm of near death experiences, hoping for insights. Each has their heart stopped and is revived. They begin having flashes of walking nightmares from their childhood, reflecting sins they committed or had committed against them. The experiences continue to intensify, and they begin to be physically beaten by their visions as they try and go deeper into the death experience to find a cure.

This film is more of a ghost story. As the characters are haunted by mistakes from the past mentally more then anything. Secrets that they have kept inside and have been eating away at them. Yet Only Kiefer Sutherland’s secret becomes physical. The film would have been a bit more interesting had the others in some way had also become more physical. Not necessarily as abusive though.

I will admit when I was younger I constantly watched and re-watched the film. I thought it was not really good, but cool. Especially the scene of Kiefer Sutherland stitching himself up in the mirror.

The film kind of cops out on some of the characters stories. One is even not exorcised by their own strength and guilt but more by a discovery. Only 2 out of 4 of the stories come close to scary or at least thrilling. One of those only due to the violence, that constantly comes out of nowhere

The film harkens back to a 80’s Don Simpson-Jerry Bruckheimer Style. Though it is thoroughly Joel Schumacher. The cast looks model perfect good looking. Though they are young they all look too old. Though I accept blame as I am reviewing it now and knowing how they look now rather then how they looked when the film was made. The scenes are filtered with heavy lighting.

I feel this film is more creepy then actually scary. There are plenty of cheap scares and tricks used in the film. Originally when I saw the film I was hoping it was going to be more like JACOB’S LADDER.

When the film was made Kiefer Sutherland and Julia Roberts were engaged. This is the first and only movie the co-starred together in. It’s a shame as they have on-screen chemistry. Though are not romantically linked in the film and share few scenes with one another.

I have to say Kiefer Sutherland could have been typecast along time ago. Yet I am impressed by him over the years becoming more of a character actor who has had many opportunities to become a leading man. He has stayed a viable and capable actor.

The director Of Photography Jan De Bont went on to become a successful director of his own with the films SPEED, TWISTER, SPEED 2: CRUISE CONTROL, THE HAUNTING, LARA CROFT: THE CRADLE OF LIFE

The film is stupid yet entertaining as it is more a guilty pleasure than anything else. So bad it’s good at times. With his history in film Joel Schumacher might make bad movies to others. I will admit they are certainly trashy. I see them as the equivalent of fast food for film. Quick simple entertainment that is not of high quality. Yet It fulfills your desire somewhat of what you want in a film. It’s bad for you. yet he knows how to give the audience what they want.

If you really think of the plot of this movie. It is stupid. A bunch of hot hot shot medical students want to know what it’s like to watch on the other side of life that is death. So one by one hey clinically kill each other medically and bring them back but soon ate haunted by their own personal demons. Which they don’t warn each other about until it’s too late.

This is what was considered a mainstream studio horror movie in it’s day. Though there is plenty of death in this film. No one actually dies it plays off more like a supernatural thriller, though it seems it is all happening in their own minds except for Kiefer Sutherland who is actually showing physical signs of his demons.

This to me qualifies as a bad movie to love. At times it is just ridiculous but takes itself so seriously. It’s never really scary. It has too many quick cuts that are supposed to be fragmented memories. Half the shots look like outakes from a fashion shoot. The personal demons that haunt them are not things you would believe still haunt them or seem very minor. Except for Julia Roberts and Kiefer Sutherland’s character.

The film appears to try to say something about spiritually and guilt bit comes off muddled, but whole all of this is going on you can’t stop watching just to see what will happen next. It’s a guarantee it will be unbelievable bit the film entertains endlessly. This was also the first film I saw Oliver Platt in. He doesn’t have much to do as he is the only part of the main cast who not only doesn’t look like a model. He is also the heaviest and only one who doesn’t do the experiment. Which I figure is not to make this film an Eli ad his character is already scared and nervous most of the time. A true nebbish he probably doesn’t have anything that is haunting him as he is scared of everything out there even without the process and at the time no star power.

Kiefer Sutherland gives the best performance in the Film as this was during his bad boy days and that is the type of character he plays here and at the time. He was engaged to his co-star Julia Roberts though surprisingly she has better chemistry with Kevin bacon. This is a must see not for quality, bit for pure entertainment.

I mean come on William Baldwin is haunted by women coming onto him because he consistently cheats on his fiancé. Don’t you think the true horror for him would be that all the women are not real so he gets no sex or that they were all secretly men would be more appropriate.

It being Schumacher the over abundance of neon, mist and filtered lighting makes it hard to make out things and characters in the frame. It also works for the films advantage that places the film in a permanent dream like state. This is Definitely a little dated a 90’s movie on look and that shows it’s age.

If you really think of the plot of this movie. It is stupid. A bunch of hot hot shot medical students want to know what it’s like to watch on the other side of life that is death. So one by one hey clinically kill each other medically and bring them back but soon ate haunted by their own personal demons. Which they don’t warn each other about until it’s too late. 

 This is what was considered a mainstream studio horror movie in t’s day. Though there is plenty of death in this film. No one actually dies it plays off more like a supernatural thriller, though it seems itbisnall happening in their own minds except for kiefer Sutherland who is actually showing physical signs of his demons.

This to me qualifies as a bad movie to love. At times it is just ridiculous 

The film has the theme that your guilt from the past actions haunts you and as long as you give them power they grow stronger and stay dormant in your mind. Though the film by coming close to death it unleashes them more into the characters psyche. So that they become more physical manifestations. Though watching the movie it makes it seem edge of your seat chilling and scary. Once you think about the root of each problem they are kind of silly. I can imagine this film being a  mental health care workers fantasy. As each characters mental block comes to life.

GRADE: C

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