Flatliners isn’t exactly a classic film, but does have some nostalgic appeal based on a cast that looks even more impressive nearly 30 years later. Starring Julia Roberts and Kiefer Sutherland, the cast also included Kevin Bacon and Oliver Platt. If you put together a movie with those actors in it today, it would surely draw some interest.
That’s not to say a 1990 film shouldn’t be remade now. The concept of the original Flatliners, in which five medical students attempt to discover what is beyond death by putting themselves through near-death experiences, still holds up and has 30 more years of science and cultural interests to add to it. And virtually anyone can relate to pushing curiosity just a bit too far in one situation or another. Or Sony may just be trying to cash in on some nostalgia by blowing the dust off a moderately popular piece of intellectual property.
But one immediate problem with a Flatliners remake is that its cast seems nowhere near as accomplished or compelling as the original. (Even 27 years ago, Roberts, Sutherland, Bacon and Platt were acclaimed actors.) No disrespect intended to Ellen Page (I’m a fan!) and Diego Luna (he was in Rogue One!), but will they draw viewers into theaters? Maybe the intention is to attract audiences with the name and premise. See for yourself if that’s enough for you with the first trailer for the film:
After one watch, the most impressive thing in that Flatliners trailer may be Luna’s hair. Is he sporting a mullet? Maybe that’s something he has to answer for in the afterlife after he dies for five minutes or whatever.
Vast improvements in digital effects and make-up can surely add something to this Flatliners remake if the story calls for it. The original story had the students confronting past life experiences — and tragedies — by their entry into the afterlife. Are they experiencing hallucinations or reality? That may be the case in the remake as well, though the trailer makes it seem as if going where they shouldn’t go also means they brought something back with them that was supposed to stay dead.
But this new Flatliners may be more of a sequel than a remake. It’s not shown in the trailer, so perhaps this constitutes a spoiler (if so, SPOILER ALERT), but Sutherland has said that he will be in this film, reprising his character from the 1990 original. Did he continue this field of study or did he get far away from all of it after moving too close toward death? Or maybe he hears what these kids are up to and shows up to tell them they’re all stupid. We won’t know until we see the movie!
Flatliners will be released in theaters on Sept. 29. But you can stream the original on Amazon and Hulu, and may be better off doing that.