FLATLINERS. 1990. DIRECTED BY JOEL SCHUMACHER. STARRING KIEFER SUTHERLAND, JULIA ROBERTS, KEVIN BACON, WILLIAM BALDWIN AND OLIVER PLATT. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
This horror film is an enjoyable watch, but it ain’t half daft. I’d heard so much over the years about how good it was, then I watch it for myself and find out that it’s a load of wishy-washy old hokum. Fun hokum, but hokum nonetheless.
The five leads are American medical students who have gotten way, way too big for their boots. They think they can play God by each undergoing a controlled death for several minutes, then being resuscitated by their smarty-pants colleagues. If during the time they are ‘dead’ they experience some kind of an ‘afterlife,’ then that proves definitively that there is life after death.
Cue instant fame and fortune for the five and a place in the medical history books. Sigh. No good ever came from trying to out-God God. Someone really should have told this to these uppity morons with a grossly inflated sense of their own importance and intelligence. Just because they’re the smartest students in the class doesn’t mean that they can fly in the face of Death and come out the other end unscathed…
They each experience different ‘afterlife’ scenarios while they are under. They emerge shocked and shaken, having each seen things from their past that they would have much preferred to forget. It’s when these shameful secrets start to plague them during their waking hours that they realise they’ve opened up a can of worms that might have been better left untouched…
That’s when the film really started to go downhill for me. Kevin Bacon’s and Julia Roberts’s stories are mushy in the extreme, while Billy Baldwin’s is silly and Kiefer Sutherland’s just plain nasty. Surely someone could have come up with stronger, better-defined stories with more satisfying resolutions? Incidentally, Oliver Platt, arguably the least famous of the five, doesn’t get a story at all, or a chance to go ‘under,’ which seems unfair.
The ending is pure daft too. Out of the five, I think only Kiefer Sutherland’s and Julia Roberts’s performances would be worth remembering. That’s probably mainly because they’re both utterly ravishing though, haha. His sneery mouth and her fabulous hair, big teeth and wide, wide smile…! Fantastic stuff. She has absolutely no boobs in it, but she’s more memorable for other things. She’s really all about the teeth and hair, I always think.
Okay, so I wasn’t very complimentary about this film but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have its good moments, and the college building and the Fall scenery are both gorgeous to look at. It’s worth checking out at least once anyway, if only for its all-star cast and iconic movie status. Enjoy…
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based performance poet, novelist, film blogger, sex blogger and short story writer. She has given more than 200 performances of her comedy sex-and-relationship poems in different venues around Dublin, including The Irish Writers’ Centre, The International Bar, Toners’ Pub (Ireland’s Most Literary Pub), the Ha’penny Inn, Le Dernier Paradis at the Trinity Inn and The Strokestown Poetry Festival.
Her articles, short stories and poems have appeared in The Metro-Herald newspaper, Ireland’s Big Issues magazine, The Irish Daily Star, The Irish Daily Sun and The Boyne Berries literary journal. In August 2014, she won the ONE LOVELY BLOG award for her (lovely!) horror film review blog. She is addicted to buying books and has been known to bring home rain-washed tomes she finds on the street and give them a home.
She is the proud possessor of a pair of unfeasibly large bosoms. They have given her- and the people around her- infinite pleasure over the years. She adores the horror genre in all its forms and will swap you anything you like for Hammer Horror or JAWS memorabilia. She would also be a great person to chat to about the differences between the Director’s Cut and the Theatrical Cut of The Wicker Man. You can contact her at:
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