Directed by Joel Schumacher and written by Peter Filardi, for some reason I never saw Flatliners. I would assume in 1990 I was somewhere between my gorehound and art film phases and a mainstream Hollywood horror movie with major stars would hold no interest for me. But as I grow older, I see the mistakes of my past and can admit: this is a well-made film with some interesting ideas.
Nelson Wright (Keifer Sutherland), Joe Hurley (William Baldwin; what is it with him playing characters that film people having sex? He does it in this and Sliver), David Labraccio (Kevin Bacon), Rachel Manus (Julia Roberts) and Randy Steckle (Oliver Platt) are medical students that want to learn what comes after death. So they use their skills in the ER to kill each other for one minute and then bring the body back to life to see what happens. Nelson has an experience where he sees his old bully and can’t describe what it was like, so everyone has to see it for themselves.
As they say, nothing good can happen from any of this. Basically, each of them has an unresolved trauma and until it is fixed, it will destroy them from beyond.
This would be a basic movie if not for the look that director of photography Jan de Bont brings to the film, as well as the incredible lighting and colors of the film. That said, what emerges is a movie that’s better than you’d think it would be and one worthy of watching several times.
There was a remake/sequel/reboot in 2017 that had a Sutherland in it as a different character, except that in a deleted scene it was shown that he really was Nelson Wright. I mean, make up your mind, Danish filmmaker Niels Arden Oplev!
The Arrow Video release of Flatliners has a brand new 4K restoration from the original negative, approved by director of photography Jan de Bont. Plus, there’s new audio commentary by critics Bryan Reesman and Max Evry, as well as new interviews with de Bont, screenwriter Peter Filardi, chief lighting technician Edward Ayer, first assistant director John Kretchmer, production designer Eugenio Zanetti, art director Larry Lundy, composer James Newton Howard, orchestrator Chris Boardman and costume designer Susan Becker. There’s also a trailer, an image gallery, a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gary Pullin and an illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Amanda Reyes and Peter Tonguette. You can get the 4K Ultra HD and blu ray from MVD.