With the release of Flatliners, the current trend for resurrecting old movie properties continues, which is perhaps quite apt for a movie all about being brought back from the dead. Flatliners follows on from the 1990 cult classic, which starred Julia Roberts, Kiefer Sutherland, Kevin Bacon and William Baldwin as young doctors experimenting with stopping their hearts and then being resuscitated, with the intention of finding out if there was anything on the other side.
When the 2017 release of Flatliners was announced, there seemed to be some confusion as to whether it was a reboot or a sequel, but Hollywood seems to have largely settled on it being a sequel, mainly because one of the stars of the 1990 original, Kiefer Sutherland, is set to make a cameo. But, unlike a true sequel, the plot seems to be largely the same as the 1990 version, with a group of doctors played by Ellen Page, Diego Luna, Nina Dobrev and James Norton, who conduct the same resuscitation experiments, and then become haunted by their past sins coming back to torment them.
What does seem different in this version is the look of the movie. Obviously the 2017 version will feature considerably fewer pairs of dad jeans, high top trainers and bouffant hairstyles, but the fashion will not be the only visual difference. The 1990s doctors conducted their experiments in an abandoned gothic building full of old sculptures, for no discernible reason aside from it fitting in with the creepy Halloween aesthetic of Joel Schumacher’s movie.
The 2017 version looks to be all sterile, brightly lit rooms, with futuristic-looking medical equipment. Despite the setting being less gothic and more sci-fi, it seems that the 2017 version has definitely ramped up the horror, with plenty of jump scares and much more violent and unsettling scenes with the doctors’ sinister visitors.
Despite being a cult classic, and pulling in a respectable amount at the box office, the 1990s Flatliners was never really critically acclaimed, with a not especially fresh score of 49% on Rotten Tomatoes. In Ellen Page and Diego Luna, the 2017 version has a couple of pretty solid stars to carry it, so it will be interesting to see how well received it is when it opens on 29th September. It’s difficult to imagine the new Flatliners becoming as iconic as the nineties version went on to become, but it looks slick and visually appealing, so it should appeal to the modern horror audience. Hot on the heels of IT, cinemagoers might be hungry for another updated supernatural 90s classic, so it may well prove a worthwhile decision to have brought this particular story back from the dead.