Flatliners resurrects Hollywood’s afterlife fixation

For many it’s harps, halos and angel wings, for some celestial spheres and astral planes and for others still, reunions with long-departed family and friends in sunlit Elysian fields. Whatever your image of what lies beyond there’s a version of it immortalised on celluloid somewhere in Hollywood’s rich canon of life-after-death movies.
From Heaven Can Wait and It’s a Wonderful Life to The Sixth Sense — still the most successful horror movie of all time — Tinseltown has been offering a window into the heavenly realm for decades.
The latest take on the hereafter is Flatliners, a reboot of the 1990 cult classic about student physicians shocking themselves to the other side and back — with a young new cast and a masters degree in medical authenticity.
“Death is the last great unknown, in some ways. It’s like the depths of the sea and the depths of space,” Danish director Niels Arden Oplev said. Movie-goers over the age of 40 will remember the premise of Flatliners: a group of devil-may-care medical students, obsessed by the mystery of what lies beyond, embark on an audacious, dangerous experiment.
Stopping their hearts for short periods, each triggers their own near-death experience as their colleagues monitor their brain activity, to see if they can find any proof of the afterlife. Oplev, who made 2009’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the most successful Scandinavian film of all time, says the new Flatliners is also a metaphor for American
culture’s obsession with getting ahead.
Oplev’s characters discover that having flatlined and faced death, they not only experience what the afterlife might be like but also come back with enhanced abilities.
He brought on medical consultant Lindsay Somers and her network of nurses, radiologists and neurosurgeons to ensure the action was as accurate as possible.
Another difference between Oplev’s film and Schumacher’s is the intensity of the psychological horror, which has been jacked up for a less easily shockable generation.