A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Flatliners is a remake of a 1990 thriller about medical students who "flatline" (i.e., die) to try to find out what happens after death. The original movie was smart enough to know how ridiculous it was, but this remake lacks that self-awareness. At least it's a little less intense than the original, though you can still expect to see dying/dead bodies, a brutal car crash, an attempted strangling, ghost/scary stuff, and hospital scenes (including hypodermic needles and drops of blood). Language includes several uses of "s--t," one use of "f--k," and a few other words. Two couples have sex; there's no graphic nudity, but a woman is shown on top of a man, and a different man kisses a different woman, removes her bra, and gets naked with her under the covers. Characters drink in at least one scene, getting happily drunk. Alcohol is shown in other scenes, and drugs are mentioned.
- Parents say
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What's the story?
In FLATLINERS, medical student Courtney (Ellen Page) is doing her internship but is still haunted by the car crash that killed her younger sister years earlier. She becomes fascinated by patients who die and return to life, describing what they felt and saw. So Courtney decides to kill herself, just for one minute, and asks fellow students Jamie (James Norton) and Sophia (Kiersey Clemons) to help. Ray (Diego Luna) and Marlo (Nina Dobrev) join in. The experiment works, and Courtney comes back feeling energized and sharp, as if her brain was "rewired." Jamie decides to go through with it, too, followed by Marlo and Sophia. But in addition to their new lease on life, they start seeing ghosts of their past, at first in visions and then in real life. After a fatal accident, the remainder of the group decides to find out whether apologizing for their mistakes will put the ghosts to rest.
Is it any good?
This remake of the popular 1990 hit starts with the same intriguing idea and goes down the same superficial, empty-headed path. Although, unlike the original, this take on Flatliners is sadly unaware of its own shallowness. The original played up its silliness with bold colors and overwrought sets; the best this one can manage is having the women wear heels during their hospital shifts. The original also benefited from the newly minted stardom of Julia Roberts, whose Pretty Woman had recently set the box office afire. This Flatliners does feature some likable actors, but they're hardly the "A" list the original film boasted. (Kiefer Sutherland cameos as an older doctor, 27 years after his role in the original.)
It's too bad the remake couldn't have expanded on the original idea, exploring the concept of life after death. Instead, it goes down the same old "haunted by ghosts of our past" route (it's very convenient how many of these characters have deaths in their past) and uses stale old horror/thriller chestnuts to "scare" us. It does try to shove an "apologizing/forgiving" message down viewers' throats, but that means little when the characters are only doing it to save their own skins. At the helm, director Niels Arden Oplev (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Dead Man Down) keeps things polished and professional but fails to make his movie worth experiencing.
Talk to your kids about ...
Is the movie scary? How do the scary elements fit in with the story about discovery and apology/forgiveness? Why is it sometimes fun to be scared at the movies?
Did you ever do anything in your past that hurt someone? Do you regret it? Would you apologize if you could?
How is sex portrayed in the movie? Is it healthy? Is it based on love or trust? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.
- In theaters: September 29, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: December 26, 2017
- Cast: Ellen Page, Nina Dobrev, Diego Luna, James Norton
- Director: Niels Arden Oplev
- Studio: Columbia Pictures
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 108 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: violence and terror, sexual content, language, thematic material, and some drug references
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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