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Despite no noteworthy performances, and this being a remake, Flatliners contains just enough surprises to fight off preconceived notions.
Director: Niels Arden Oplev
As we have seen in both Lucy and The Discovery, there is a grand interest in the capabilities of the mind. Be it unlocking its potential or its ability to bend and manipulated our assumed time and space. For those in Flatliners, the majority of them focus on what was seen in Lucy. After all, Sophia (Kiersey Clemons) is pretty much using up all of her momma’s (Wendy Raquel Robinson) savings to go to school. Which comes with her on her keeping a close eye. As for Marlo (Nina Dobrev) and Jamie (James Norton)? They just want the edge.
But then there is Courtney (Ellen Page). Like Will in The Discovery, she is looking to interact with something, rather someone, she lost. However, when you open up the abilities of the mind, you draw out things the brain has been trying to suppress. So as each one becomes a pseudo-genius, so comes the madness often associated with noteworthy intelligence.
Thus leading to the film switching gears and becoming almost like a thriller, jump scares and all, as everyone faces their deepest guilt.
Question(s) Left Unanswered
- It isn’t necessarily noted if, after everyone deals with their guilt, did they get to keep the unlocked potential of their minds.
- Also, it isn’t noted whether Sophia ever reconciled with her mother, after having loud sex with Jamie in her mother’s home. Much less if Jamie and Alicia (Anna Arden), the girl he was supposed to take to an abortion clinic but he bailed on her, made up.
- Did Marlo tell the whole truth in terms of not only killing someone but also covering it up? For considering all she got was probation, that sounds off. Especially the way Ray made it seem that her doing so should open up the idea that her ethical standards are questionable.
The Guilt Really Draws You In
When the film first starts off and introduces the characters, there is an almost instant desire for an eye-roll. If only because it seems like your usual remake which should have never happened featuring a bunch of actors who don’t necessarily have consistency in their filmographies. However, after Courtney flat lines and is joined by the others, and the party ends up over, that is when this film gets good.
After that moment, we veer into creepy territory as Courtney deals with her sister’s death, that she caused by texting while driving. We watch as Marlo deals with the guilt of killing someone and then covering it up. Then, lastly, we watch as Sophia deals with the guilt from screwing over some girl, by hacking her electronics and releasing her nudes, just to make herself top of the class.
The way this guilt eats at them, that is the main hook here. For it drew me in so much that when the AMC attendant came in and accidentally knocked down his broom, I jumped! In fact, multiple times there are legit jump scares and because the psychological element is decently crafted in Flatliners, expect to be more impressed towards the end than you were in the beginning.
Marlo and Ray’s Relationship
It’s a film with a bunch of 25 something-year-olds. You have to expect people to hook up, date, and what have you. Unfortunately though, when any emotion besides fear and guilt are asked of the actors, they flounder a bit. So watching Marlo and Ray’s (Diego Luna) relationship, while it helps bring out her guilt and a means to deal with it, nothing about them screams chemistry. Their relationship is just a means to an end and furthers the idea that while Dobrev is certainly an actress, she isn’t necessarily one who is ready to transition into roles which require her seriously emote.
On The Fence
The Emotion Behind The Fear
But, in general, no one really is awe inspiring. Not even Oscar nominee Ellen Page. For, outside of perhaps Diego Luna, everyone seems to be presenting network drama kind of acting. The kind without subtlety, no sense of realness, and as much as the fear and guilt drive this movie to be something to maybe check out, I’d say it is the writing more than acting that grabs hold of you. For each story has this certain relatability to it, that allows you to bypass the present abilities of the actors.
Though better than I was expecting, Flatliners still left me feeling a bit mixed about the final result. For while I was able to get into the story, and despite my love for Ellen Page and Kiersey Clemons, I can’t say I would tell someone to pay full price to see this. Maybe even matinee prices. For while the experience of seeing this in the theater helps the horror/thriller elements, if you have a good enough sound system, the theater experience isn’t necessary.
But what really drives this mixed label is that everyone’s acting is basically adequate. There isn’t a single actor, even Page who can be considered one of the most high-profile, or Luna who has had the longest career, who add that extra oomph that makes you go, “Damn they were good.” Everyone just pretty much relies on playing up the type which got them this far and while I’m sure I’d nitpick if the tried something new and failed, at least that would show they are trying to be more than one note actors.