‘Flatliners’ (1990) Near Death Experiences Retro Review

Flatliners (1990), which released on August 10, 1990, is one of my all time favorite 90s movies. Besides the fact that it came out the year I was born, the directing of Joel Schumacher (Batman franchise) blows me away with every viewing. I catch something new each time I revisit this classic thriller, which follows med school students playing a deadly game with death, deliberately flatlining themselves to see if there is in fact an afterlife. Flatliners also introduced to me actors whom I would grow up watching time and time again, including Kiefer Sutherland (The Lost Boys 1987 – read our retro review here), Julia Roberts (Sleeping With The Enemy 1991), William Baldwin (Sliver 1993), Oliver Platt (Lake Placid 1999), and one of my personal all time favorite actors, Kevin Bacon, who has been a staple in the horror genre ever since starring in the first Friday The 13th (1980 – read our retro review here).

My first experience with Flatliners was browsing through a local Blockbuster store as a teenager when I was first getting into film. My curiosity about the plot of Flatliners drew me in, and I was pleasantly surprised at the time, falling instantly in love with the way the film was shot. It was very stylish for its time and captivating on every level. Sure, it’s not a perfect film. However, it is one I can revisit every Halloween for a unique thriller that’s not so cookie cutter.

The performances are above average for the audience Joel was going for—the teenage and college-aged crowd. Oliver Platt, Kevin Bacon, and especially Kiefer Sutherland knock their roles out of the park. The score of the film, composed by the great James Newton Howard (King Kong 2005), is haunting, something you cannot shake off for a long time.

Early reception to Flatliners wasn’t as great as many of Joel Schumacher’s films upon initial release, but it now boosts an extreme cult following and is beloved by much of the horror community. The term, “flatliners,” has also become a huge pop culture tool in movies, including a hilarious clip from Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (2016), where Bill Hader’s character tells the cameraman that one of his favorite hobbies is, “Flatlining. Like what those kids did in the movie, Flatliners.”

What is your opinion of the 1990 movie, Flatliners? Do you think it still stands up to film today? What are your thoughts on the 2017 remake? Let us know in the comments below!

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