Written By: Grave Reviews Staff
Director: Joel Schumacher
Writer: Peter Filardi
Producer(s): Michael Douglas, Rick Bieber
Date Released: August 10, 1990
Kiefer Sutherland as Nelson Wright
Julia Roberts as Rachel Manus
Kevin Bacon as David Labraccio
William Baldwin as Joe Hurley
Oliver Platt as Randy Steckle
Kimberly Scott as Winnie Hicks
Joshua Rudoy as Billy Mahoney
Benjamin Mouton as Mr. Manus
Hope Davis as Anne Coldren
Patricia Belcher as Edna
Beth Grant as Housewife
Rating = 3.5/5 Graves
***May contain some spoilers***
Flatliners (1990) is a story of five medical students who experiment with the mystery of near death to death experiences. As such, they try to discover the mystery on their own near death experiences. In order to prove what really happens after death, they purposely have their heart stopped and then revived after a few minutes. After each episode of death, each one experiences flashes of nightmares from their past lives reflecting mistakes and bad things they committed. The experiences continue to get intense as days go by and as a result must try to find a cure to stop these episodes from recurring.
The film contains minimal gore and blood. But the very idea of dying creates an atmosphere of intense afterlife experiences, some of which are visually disturbing. There are some brief scenes of bloody surgery detail and mild violence. One scene which should be noted is when one of the main characters stitches up a gash on his own face in a mirror. Of course, as the main protagonists are medical students, they work on cadavers, but the imagery still may disturb some audience members.
The Grave Review
Flatliners (1990) is an original, intelligent thriller, directed by Joel Schumacher. The cast, an outstanding group of talented young actors, provide the perfect mixture of intensity, fear and confidence. The characters include Nelson Wright (Kiefer Sutherland), Rachel Manus (Julia Roberts, David Labraccio) Kevin Bacon), Hoe Hurley (William Baldwin), and Randy Steckle (Oliver Platt).
The film’s plot is solely based on the premise of near death experiences. The medical students are intrigued by various accounts where people were pronounced dead but then are resuscitated back to life. Even more intriguing was the fact that these people would later speak about how they experienced various feelings and sights such as a out of body experiences and a tunnel of light. This sets the foundation for the film. The plot was well done and the notion of these experiments are frightening. However, the second half of the film felt more interpretative and a little less clear.
In respect to the atmosphere, the setting was amazing in itself. It was shot mostly in the neo-gothic gloom of turn of the century locations in and around the University of Chicago. Gargoyles, shadows and gloomy stained-glass windows surround the deadly experiments, as the students try to play “God’s will”, so to speak.
Overall, Flatliners is a good combination of outstanding performances by seasoned actors and an intriguing storyline to carry the movie through. However, the end has run out of esteem. It cannot decide between reality and spirituality. The ultimate question is: are they dealing with their own guilt or some kind of spiritual revenge from those they hurt? In the end, it sends a message of remorse and redemption, but loses direction. Either way, it is worth the watch and “heart stopping” to say the least.
For the foregoing reasons, Grave Reviews gives Flatliners (1990) three and a half graves out of five graves.
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