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SUTHERLAND WITH BACON & ROBERTS DIE IN 'FLATLINERS'

Year of Release: 1990
The reason FLATLINERS seems like a Brat Pack flick despite having none of those particular actors on board is because the director was also behind the pivotal pack-classic, ST. ELMO'S FIRE... And Joel Schumacher has a style of filming great-looking actors in an ethereal glow, which literally fits here being they choose to die and come back again i.e. playing God with their own bodies...

Taking place in and around various classrooms and backrooms of some kind of steely, dystopic medical school, the shadow-filled, icky-green sets seem as if a neon Gothic explosion blew out most of the lights and took down half the equipment, like Dr. Frankenstein's lab dreamed-up by Tim Burton. Which is what FLATLINERS is going for aesthetically. But it turned out more like a glossy music video, especially the choppy extreme-closeups...

Flatliners Score: **1/2
While Julia Roberts, Kiefer Sutherland, Kevin Bacon and pretty pretty-boy William Baldwin obviously aren't unattractive (with token ugly guy Oliver Platt as a sarcastic Roman Chorus), the camera's so tight on both conversational and sporadic physical action, the audience is forced to feel about a movie that's ultimately more popcorn mainstream than the kind of meticulous inner-realm thriller it attempts to be... Which is actually a compliment...

Because FLATLINERS does have entertainment value: the resuscitating scenes are suspenseful and the reanimated flashbacks haunting these intentionally pretentious students are intriguing...

But delving into earthly and mundane situations involving Keifer and Kevin's former grade school bullying; Julia's screwed-up father; and Baldwin's videotaped sexual conquests are as limited as those horror movies about ghosts who want nothing but that timeworn "closure" as opposed to being formidably evil  beneath the surface. In a nutshell, FLATLINERS is proof that shallow Narcissism can only run so deep.
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