Posted on Leave a comment

Reed Alexander’s Horror Review of ‘Flatliners’ (1990)

The Definition of Being Out to Get Yourself

I just found out there was a remake of this amazing classic, and I’ve never reviewed the original, so I decided to rewatch it… again.

What made this movie so amazing was how they took an old boring concept and made it new again. The idea that the dead don’t come back without consequence is as old as Merry Shelly. Actually, way older than that. We’ve always feared the dead. I think it’s primordial.

So the idea of killing yourself clinically, and using modern medicine to revive yourself was just an amazing new spin. Enticing a near death experience is something modern medicine has experimented with, but not by actually killing people temporarily. The fact that each character who attempts the flatline was legally dead makes this movie so damn exciting.  More on this later in the spoilers.

But look at the fucking cast: Kiefer Sutherland, Julia Roberts, Kevin Bacon, William Baldwin, Oliver Plat, and Kimberly Scott. Even the child actors didn’t suck. The acting is flat out spectacular. The plot and story are timeless with a modern twist. It’s deep, but not so complicated you can’t follow along easily. Finally, the atmosphere is dark, gritty, and palpable.

A movie you have to watch in the dark is always a win in my book.

I don’t really give a fuck what you think about the concept. This is required viewing for horror heads and good enough for a general audience. It’s not all about fucking gore, you know.


Your own sins are out to kill you! Now that’s not even a new concept. A lot of movies have tried manifesting personal sins against the main cast. But this one made them real and deadly. Kiefer Sutherland’s character is literally being hunted down by the kid he got killed when he was a kid. That’s just kinda fucking cool man. There’s more too it, of course, as Kevin Bacon’s character discovers you have to atone for your sin in order to get it off your back. Unfortunately, the “sin” of Kiefer Sutherland and Julia Robert’s characters are fucking dead. How do you seek forgiveness from the dead?

Well, as it turns out, for Roberts, it’s really her dead dad that wants forgiveness from her, and for Sutherland, he’s got to die to make the little prick happy. This leads to a really tender moment between Robert’s character and her dead dad, and Sutherland going flatline for 12 whole minutes. My only complaint here is brain death occurs six minutes after the heart stops, so Sutherland should have come back brain damaged.

While one character totally has his life ruined when his sin catches him out as a cheater, everybody survives… now, there’s a problem with that.

I don’t remember this movie ending with everyone surviving. Is there a director’s cut alternative ending I’m not aware of? In my memory, the cheater and Sutherland’s character both died. I very vividly remember a scene with Kevin Bacon trying to talk Kiefer Sutherland down from suicide, right before the the ghost kid fucking kills Sutherland by pushing him out of a very real tree. Not a dream tree from the movie I just watched.

I digress, it feels like a copout that nobody died. There should have been very serious consequences for the hubris of the experiment in order to make the story seem complete. The only person who actually suffered any consequences was the cheater when his fiancee dumped his ass. Is that all? I feel like him and Sutherland should have bit the bullet the way I described. Maybe I made the ending up in my head because I desperately wanted it to end that way.

Anyway, even though the ending is a total copout, the movie is amazing.

If you like Reed Alexander’s Horror Review, consider stopping by Horror.Media and donating by hitting the ‘Tip’ button. You can also support Reed by sharing his reviews on Facebook and Twitter.

New reviews posted Wednesday, here on Madness Heart!

Leave a Reply