17 August 2015

FLATLINERS

FLATLINERS

German Title:
Flatliners - Heute ist ein schöner Tag zum Sterben

USA, 1990
Director: Joel Schumacher

8/10







I've said it before and I don't shy away from saying it again: I'm a fan of director Joel Schumacher. Yes, he made those two shitty Batman films, but that aside, he's a terrific filmmaker who managed to create many, many really cool films in at least three decades (granted, he hasn't done anything worthwhile in the 00s...). The one I wanna talk about today is "Flatliners", a thought-provoking and damn creepy mix of horror, thriller and drama with some sci-fi elements thrown in, following five medical students who try to discover what lies beneath death by experimenting on near-death-experiences and doing 'temporary deaths'. The experiments work fine, but with horrible, nightmarish side effects...


Back in 1990, Schumacher was one of the hottest directors in town. His five 80s features "The Incredible Shrinking Woman (1981)", "D.C. Cab (1983)", "St. Elmo's Fire (1985)", "The Lost Boys (1987)" and "Cousins (1989)" made more than $120 million domestically. The studios were in love with him, and trusted him with $26 million for "Flatliners", the highest budget of Schumacher's career so far. He used the money very wisely and created yet another box office hit that made more than $60 million domestically. It was also his first movie that received an Oscar nomination (Best Sound Effects Editing).

The movie itself is neither underrated, nor overrated, but for some reason it feels a bit forgotten. I remember there was lots of fuzz about "Flatliners" upon release, regarding the basic theme of the movie, you know, people playing god and shit. The Chicago Tribune called it "risky and provocative". The Washington Post called it "a provocative attempt to resuscitate the nation's spiritual dynamism". Hell, even Schumacher himself called it "the most provocative project I've done in a while". If it would have been released today, no-one would care about it. If you don't believe me, look at this year's "The Lazarus Effect": slightly similar premise, but it created absolutely no fuzz and didn't even earn half of the money that "Flatliners" did back then.


I admit, it's not a perfect movie and definitely has some flaws, like certain plot points and technical aspects that are plain silly and don't make much sense, and I also thought that the ending is a bit too kitschy, at least for my taste. Yet, apart from that, "Flatliners" is a stunningly well made movie, creepier and more unsettling than I initially expected it to be, thrilling and entertaining from start to finish, and totally gorgeous, thanks to tons fabulous-looking settings, some absolutely incredible lighting, fantastic colours and colour transitions, as well as absolutely outstanding camera work / cinematography by the once-so-great Jan de Bont ("Cujo", "Black Rain", "Basic Instinct"...).

Schumacher's direction is flawless, constantly keeping you on the edge of your seat with eerie scenes where reality, dream and afterlife melt into frightening visions of past tragedies and sins that seem to come to life, haunting our four Flatliners and quickly turning their lives into horrible nightmares. Acting-wise, everyone gives an awesome performance, especially Kiefer Sutherland (very intense), Julia Roberts (strong and intriguing) and Kevin Bacon (great as always). There's also a nice mini-mini-performance by Beth "Sparkle Motion" Grant, and, hey: the fact that "Flatliners" was produced by Michael Douglas, one of my favorite actors of all time... well, it just proves that he is not just a great actor, but has also great taste in movies ;)


Overall, a wonderful movie (that shouldn't be forgotten!) by a wonderful director (that totally doesn't deserve all the hate he got after "Batman & Robin"!). Too bad  we'll never get to see Victor Ward in Bret Easton Ellis' "Flatliners II". What? you haven't read "Glamorama"?? BLASPHEMY!! ;-)

6 comments:

  1. I love this film so much!

    I've just finished reading Bret Easton Ellis' American Psycho, which of course, is just as sick as the film.

    I haven't read Glamorama, but now it's on my list :D

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    Replies
    1. Me too :)

      You think so? I don't like the film which is much too tame for my taste, while the book never fails to disturb and depress me.

      Actually, you need to read all of Ellis' novels. They're all terrific!

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  2. One of my favorites, that little kid freaks me out every time.

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, that kid is one scary motherfucler!

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  3. I've never liked Julia Roberts - so she derailed this for me as a VHS new release. My only viewing - maybe I should give it another shot.

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    Replies
    1. I'm not a fan of her either, but she's a good actress and always gives great performances.

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