'Flatliners' ('90) BD: Designated Survivor Kiefer Sutherland Leads Rogue Med Students on Live-Die-Repeat Adventure
The Mill Creek Entertainment September 26, 2017 Steelbook Blu-ray/DVD release of the 1990 Joel Schumacher version of the horror film "Flatliners" looks and sounds amazing and proves that this film aces the test of time. It also makes a great Halloween season companion to the (Unreal TV reviewed) October 3, 2017 Mill Creek 50th Anniversary Blu-ray release of "The Night of the Living Dead."
Many factors contribute to the appeal of this film that has Kiefer Sutherland play a med student who leads his classmates in experiments to determine what happens when you die. On a general level, folks who just check out "Flatliners" to see Sutherland and co-stars Julia Roberts and Kevin Bacon probably will enjoy it more based on the film exceeding their expectations.
"Flatliners" additionally hits the "Baby Bear" sweet spot regarding the balance between art and commerce for which Hollywood studio films should strive. Hiring Schumacher of "The Lost Boys" and "St. Elmo's Fire" and the hot young actors (as well as Billy Baldwin and Oliver Platt) demonstrates a reasonable profit motive. Schumacher and his team doing well with a story that has depth provides a good dose of art.
"Flatliners" opens with ominous (perfect-for-Blu-ray) "Omen" style music as Sutherland's Nelson races across campus and peeks in the muraled abandoned room (spectacular in Blu-ray) where he is going to conduct his experiments.
These opening scenes also establish Roberts' Rachel as a compassionate practitioner obsessed with near-death experiences, Bacon's David as a rogue rebel who rappels from his apartment window down the side of his building and drives an Army surplus truck merely to show that he is a stud, Baldwin's Joe as a Lothario who secretly videotapes his do-'em-and-dump-'em conquests, and Platt's Randy as arguably the most egotistical medical student ever.
These introductions lead to Nelson approaching each of them to confirm their participation in the initial experiment that evening; the simple concept is that that team will perform a carefully orchestrated procedure that will very briefly kill Nelson and revive him. The objective is that he will recall what he experiences during his short dirt nap.
The essential dream sequence (which also makes perfect use of Blu-ray) during the death of Nelson opens with a gorgeous scene of young boys and a dog running through a field of yellow flowers. This soon turns to dark and scary woods (once more looking great in Blu-ray) in which the now-feral boys are pelting a terrified treed lad with rocks.
Nelson returns to the land of the living with total recall regarding the experience described above. The real terror begins when it seems that hitchhikers from the other side are haunting him on this side. The worst part of this is that the bullied boy is pummeling Nelson hard enough to inflict serious damage.
The experiences of the others similarly evoke thoughts from deep in their psyches and bring their own personal Hells literally and figuratively to life; these post-death terrors take the predictable tolls on the minds and the bodies of our heroes.
Cracking the code to putting the aforementioned demons to bed prompts Nelson to go to extreme measures to avoid all the impact of a beat-down by a super-powered nine-year-old boy; this prompts his team to take their own drastic actions. Suffice it to say, none of them come out unscathed.
The aforementioned depth extends beyond this vision of what happens when we die; ambiguity exists regarding the extent to which the experiences of the group are actual or simply reflect the greatest source of their guilt or other tremendous angst. That it turn raises the issue of whether our worst misdeeds/most severe traumas truly consume our thoughts in our last seconds of life. All of this would justify the tag line "Be A Freud, Be Very A Freud."