Flatliners is dead on arrival.
Ellen Page, Nina Dobrev, and Diego Luna take the place of Kiefer Sutherland, Julia Roberts, and Kevin Bacon in the remake of Joel Schumacher’s 1990 sci-fi film, and based on the first reviews, the franchise shouldn’t have been resuscitated.
Director Niels Arden Oplev’s (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) new installment, which features Sutherland returning in a supporting role, currently sits at 0 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and is being panned by critics as “lifeless,” “dumb,” and “witless.”
In his C review, EW’s Christian Holub called the film “a confused mess.” “We live in an age of unnecessary remakes,” he writes, “but the new Flatliners movie, by Danish director Niels Arden Oplev, has the distinction of being perhaps the most unnecessary of them all.”
Read more reviews below.
Christian Holub (EW)
We live in an age of unnecessary remakes — but the new Flatliners movie, by Danish director Niels Arden Oplev, has the distinction of being perhaps the most unnecessary of them all. … it often feels like Flatliners is trapped between multiple genres without knowing exactly what kind of movie it wants to be, and the result is a confused mess.
David Ehrlich (IndieWire)
Lazily recycling the ’90s schlocky Joel Schumacher thriller of the same name (once a staple of video store shelves everywhere), this lifeless new version hits all the same beats as the original, but does so without a speck of the baroque style that made it such a fun thing to rent on a Friday night. At a time when making a movie — any movie — can feel like experimenting with life after death, there’s really no reason to belabor the point.
Andrew Barker (Variety)
About as inessential as reboots get, Flatliners finds a replacement cast of equally overqualified actors, and beefs up its depictions of the afterlife with some updated visual effects, but otherwise offers no reason for reanimating this long-expired property.
John DeFore (The Hollywood Reporter)
But instead of improving on the original’s visualization of the liminal state between life and death, director Niels Arden Oplev turns the conceit into just another excuse for rote haunting, making this Flatliners often indistinguishable from its 2017 thriller peers. Hustled into theaters with plenty of advertising and no critics’ screening, it clearly hopes to recoup some cash before audiences tweet their disappointment. As with the protagonists who stop their heartbeats and hope to be revived before serious brain damage occurs, every minute will count.
Mike D’Angelo (AV Club)
The existence of this remake, then, is somewhat puzzling. Flatliners itself, as a “property,” doesn’t really have major nostalgic pull. The new cast, headed by Ellen Page and Diego Luna, isn’t designed to lure unsuspecting viewers into garbage. Is it possible that screenwriter Ben Ripley (Source Code) managed to come up with a more compelling take on the material? Is this a rare example of Hollywood taking old dross and spinning it into contemporary gold? Nope. Flatliners 2017 is the same dumb movie as Flatliners 1990, minus most of the surface charisma.
David Edelstein (Vulture)
But no matter how skeptical you are, the premise of Flatliners is intriguing enough to draw you in. It’s the movie’s hard right turn into tidy, cornball, Sunday school moralism that leaves it unrevivably dead.
Glenn Kenny (New York Times)
This film did not screen for critics, nor was it previewed in New York theaters on a Thursday night, as is usually customary with studio pictures. I imagine Columbia understood that it had something arguably worse than a dog on its hands. This “Flatliners” is in fact a new definition of “meh.”
Noel Murray (Los Angeles Times)
One by one the students find themselves in deadly situations, seemingly assailed by physical manifestations of their worst choices — while styled and posed to look like catalog models. It’s the same dreary hooey, made more tedious and witless through repetition.
Robert Abele (The Wrap)
Swedish director Niels Arden Opley (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) and new screenwriter Ben Ripley (Source Code) serve up a fast-moving but seriously underwhelming and charmless display of young-and-dangerous tropes and paranormal consequences.
William Bibbiani (IGN)
Flatliners had every opportunity to improve on the original, and it doesn’t take most of them. It falls flat as a horror movie but the cast is good enough, and the sci-fi concepts are interesting enough, to keep it from crashing completely.