Have you ever thought about what comes after death? It’s a common conversational topic and of course, there are countless interpretations throughout different types of media. Flatliners is a film I recently found out about. Then I saw that there are in fact two films!
The story for both is practically the same. It follows five medical students who decide to find out what lies beyond death. With their medical knowledge, they are able to stop their hearts for a brief moment of time before reviving themselves.
Creating such a medical breakthrough is paramount to the characters, and although the experience itself brings about a kind of euphoric moment for them, they quickly find that it has severe repercussions.
Both films start in a way of showing you the basic lives of these medical students. You get a vague sense of the different personalities. In both films, there is a nice character mix. You have the overconfident leader, a timid friend, a skeptic, a joker, and one who is totally against it. Despite their differences, they go through with it, helping the leader first. One by one, they all follow (apart from the one who is totally against it).
After the euphoria has passed, the characters find that they are haunted by someone or something. Initially, they hide it from one another as the experiences are staggered. The first thought is that it’s brain damage, but as the experiences intensify, they notice that whatever is haunting them is presenting itself as someone they have wronged.
By righting these wrongs, they find themselves free of the being and move forward with their lives. However, in both films, there is one character who is unable/unwilling to do so, causing them to ‘flatline’ again in order to rectify their wrongs in the spiritual realm.
The reason that I watched the more recent film (2017) was because of the cast. The two that I recognised from the promotional image were Nina Dobrev and Elliot Page. The performances were great from all actors but it felt more like a gimmicky horror. It definitely made my heart race not knowing what to expect. The film presents itself as more realistic and then becomes supernatural.
The original film I thought was a lot better. I watched it not long after watching the 2017 version and considering the plotline was the same, I found it captivating. It’s definitely interesting to see how they created those more scary moments. Again, the cast is incredible: Kevin Bacon, Kiefer Sutherland, Julia Roberts, William Baldwin, and Oliver Platt. It was interesting to see the way the characters developed in a way that you wouldn’t necessarily expect.
Personally, I preferred the original to the remake but both are worth watching. The moral of the story is clear, and that is to ask for forgiveness for our past transgressions. We have all done things in the past that we aren’t proud of but often we ignore it and move on. In this story, the characters can’t move on until they ask for forgiveness and make amends. If you do want to watch both, definitely watch the 2017 first as the original has more to offer.
1990 version - 7.5/10
2017 version - 6/10