Wednesday 28 April 2021

Flatliners 2017

I have a prejudice against movie remakes. This partly because it frustrates me that Hollywood has so lost its creative spirit that they can no longer think of new stories; and also because remakes, with a few exceptions, are far worse than their originals. I'm a big fan of the 1990 psychological horror film Flatliners and I've just watched its 2017 remake by Neils Arden Oplev; and I was impressed. Source: The plot is pretty much the same; a group of medical students decide to research the near-death experience phenomenon by putting themselves into cardiac arrest. This is totally unrealistic and would be far too dangerous ever to work in real life, but both films allow me to suspend my disbelief quite well. After their experiments the students suffer terrifying ordeals in which manifestations of people they know attack them and cause them to have nightmarish visions. Only two of the four students see people who are dead. In those cases the students killed the people, but the acts were of negligence rather than malice. The two other experimenters are haunted by living people who they both harmed on purpose. It seems that the experiment released a tulpa like physical monster from within the experimenters based on their own guilt. They all badly mistreated people they knew in the past, either deliberately or through neglect, and feel very sore about it. The two whose victims were living escaped their fate by apologizing to them. One of the characters is killed by her inner demon. Both films star Kiefer Sutherland. In the original he plays the lead experimenter who is haunted by the manifestation of a boy he bullied to death as a child. In the remake he is the dean of the medical school. It is quite common for remakes to include a cast member from the original, usually in a different role. In fact Peter Jackson tried to bring in an elderly Fay Wray for his 2006 King Kong, but she died just before production. That King Kong is one of the exceptions to remakes being worse than the originals and I'd say the same for the 2017 Flatliners. The 2017 one is actually better in some ways, mostly due to improvements in special effects. It also involves the experimenters using a PET scanner to examine their brains while they're having their NDE's, indicating that they do not eliminate the brain function hypothesis. It's an interesting new angle. However, despite their foundational objective, the characters, and therefore the film's theme, never really go into detail about their primary subject matter, the NDE itself; although there is a brief attempt in the original. I'm fascinated by the NDE mystery and it came up on the most recent Third Rail Radio, which led me to want to watch this film, see:
See here for more background:

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