Sunday, July 13, 2014

FLATLINERS (1990)


FLATLINERS (1990)
Label: Mill Creek Entertainment
Region Code: 1
Duration: 114 Minutes
Rating: R
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 
Video: 1080p Widescreen (2.35:1)
Director: Joel Schumacher
Cast: Kiefer Sutherland, Julia Roberts, Kevin Bacon, William Baldwin, Oliver Platt

Arrogant med school student Nelson Wright (Kiefer Sutherland), convinces four of his medical school classmates — Joe Hurley (William Baldwin), Dave Labraccio (Kevin Bacon), Randy Steckle (Oliver Platt) and Rachel Manus (Julia Roberts) — to help him discover what lies beyond this mortal coil by medically inducing death. As Nelson drift into a sort of afterlife once his heart and brain activity seek he experiences a vision of a child he bullied to death years earlier. Once resuscitated he continues to experience vivid waking nightmares of Billy who not only haunts him but causes him bodily injury. Nelson does not share the strange experience  at first - other than to say there's something out there - and soon four of the five have flatlined and are experiencing they're own waking nightmares which seem to have followed them from the afterlife, 


I caught this sci-fi thriller in in theaters in the Summer of 1999 drawn in by the trailers and the inclusion of Keifer Sutherland who I loved to death in Lost Boys and thought was the coolest dude ever. I also recognized Kevin Bacon from Friday the 13th but it was the adverts that caught my attention. Now 25 years later watching it I was sucked right back into the story such as it is - med students risking it all to answer that eternal question - is there an afterlife. 

Set at a strange looking med school which looks more like a mansion with high vaulted ceiling and apparently undergoing a remodel - there's plastic and sheeting draped everywhere and it's one Hell of a drafty space. The classrooms where the students dissect cadavers are so dark they appear lit by candles and the Mario Bava-esque  light gels casting a blue, green and red pallor on everything - whether it makes sense or not! Obviously Schumacher is going for a slightly surreal nightmarish quality to the film which I accept right away - abandon all sense of realism at the front door or you are gonna have some serious issues

The cast is firing on all cylinders - we have Sutherland as the arrogant God-complex afflicted genius and Julia Roberts as a young woman obsessed with the afterlife following a childhood trauma. Bacon is a doc with the an uncanny knack resuscitation while Baldwin is a sex-obsessed douche and all want in on discovering once and for all if there  is an afterlife for fame, notoriety and their own edification. Everyone except Platt who is the literally the fifth wheel in this death-obsessed journey.who opts not to flatline and is pretty much the voice of reason and who observes while wondering just what-the-fuck is wrong with you people?

I enjoyed this one quite a bit upon revisit - a few things are just unlikely and no sane person let alone a medical professional would cross the ethical lines this group does but just soaking it in on it's own terms this is probably my favorite Schumacher movie - who directed several notably camp-drenched Batman entries - after The Lost Boys (1987) also starring Sutherland. 

More a surreal nightmare than a horror film but this one is a decent watch you can thrown anytime and enjoy with some inspired sets and design elements plus a strong cast. My one complaint would be that the film does not actually answer the question it sets up - the afterlife - or maybe it does and I just didn't care for it. 


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