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Flatliners

‘Everything old is new again’ is a term Hollywood uses well. Sequels, remakes and revamps have been a Tinseltown mainstay for decades. The trick is to make any follow-up feel fresh and adding to the established story. A sequel to the hit 1990 movie ‘Flatliners’, it attempts to extend the allure of the original. Having one of its stars in the updated version can’t hurt with its connection to the past welcome. It’s also a reasonably worthy successor as ‘Flatliners’ delivers the same style of thrills making the first entry memorable.

Decades after taking part in experiments involving near-death experiences, Nelson Wright (Kiefer Sutherland) is in charge of a new group of medical students. Among them is Courtney (Ellen Page) who is doing her own experimental research. Aided by fellow students including Ray (Diego Luna), Courtney conducts a new round of near-death trials. When seeing sinister visions after flat-lining, Courtney and her group move towards danger as evil reaches out from beyond the shadows.

‘Flatliners’ feels like the ‘Final Destination’ franchise where death stalks its prey. Like that series, ‘Flatliners’ has a bunch of young people surrounded by peril with death striking at any moment. Generating interest is how the danger is caused by character’s guilt of past events. This gives death the power it needs to claim their lives which only the characters can solve by confronting their early misdeeds. This element raises ‘Flatliners’ above the mundane level it occasionally descends into with an overly predictable script.

The performers do their best to inject sympathy to their initially unlikeable roles. No one cast member stands out as giving a strong performance as they deliver their lines in dour monotones. Where this takes the edge off the scares, ‘Flatliners’ tries to generate true terror. Unfortunately most of the shocks are of the usual ‘jump scares’ variety with a loud noise accompanying any spectral presence. Had ‘Flatliners’ not been anchored with an intriguing premise which is handled well it would be less than what is presented.

‘Flatliners’ doesn’t break the mould in horror sequels but it doesn’t disgrace it either. It’s a fair effort capturing fire in its second half as its narrative themes kick in. Those old enough to have seen the original when it came out may feel déjà vu with yours truly feeling like he was in a time warp as death hunted down the film’s characters.

Rating out of 10: 6

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