Following a press junket in LA and an appearance on Conan
where she promoted the movie, talked about writing a joke book with actress Amy Seimetz
as well as hanging out with her co-stars, and showed her new tattoos, Ellen Page celebrated the world premiere of »Flatliners«
together with the cast including Nina Dobrev
, Diego Luna
, Kiersey Clemons
, James Norton
and Madison Brydges
, director Niels Arden Oplev
, producer Michael Douglas
, composer Nathan Barr
and a couple of special guests at The Theatre at Ace Hotel on September 27, 2017.
But the pleasure surrounding this event and the ensuing after-party did not last for long as the reboot of the eponymous 1990 film was savaged by critics for all sorts of reasons in the first reviews that came out alongside the theatrical release just two days later. As a result, the thriller intermediately scored a 0% rating on review-aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes
which made it the worst reviewed film of 2017 and got it an undesirable "rotten" classification. Thanks to three critics (Jim Lane from Sacramento News & Review, Vicky Roach from Australia's Daily Telegraph and María Fernanda Mugica from La Nación in Argentina) the movie has, fittingly, returned from the dead and stands at 5 percent at the moment. The site's audience score, although much more optimistic, is still "rotten" at 38 percent on the other hand. As is always the case with such numbers, it's worth remembering that these ratings are not the end of the world. They are not the be-all, end-all in regards to a film's quality, but rather a snapshot of what certain critics and a part of the audience think. At the same time, it cannot be denied, however, that the negative trend also continued in regard to the financial success. With a budget of estimated $19 million, the thriller made only around $6.5 million during its opening weekend and a bit more than $24 million worldwide so far (as of October 15, 2017). The fact that Sony Pictures / Columbia Pictures neither did much pre-release marketing, nor screened the film for critics in advance or debut it in theaters on a Thursday night as usual also fits perfectly into the overall picture.
Here is the obligatory summary of what the press wrote about the movie including all the best and worst puns that they could load into their respective reviews. First up is Glenn Kenny from The New York Times
who is rather gracious by saying the new »Flatliners«
is "new definition of 'meh'." IGN
's William Bibbiani shows some evidence of openness and reconciliation by stating the reboot "had every opportunity to improve on the original, and it doesn't take most of them. It falls flat as a horror movie but the cast is good enough, and the sci-fi concepts are interesting enough, to keep it from crashing completely." A similar bottom line regarding the involved actors also comes from Bill Zwecker of Chicago Sun-Times
claiming "while the talented cast — especially principals Ellen Page, Kiersey Clemons, Diego Luna, James Norton and Nina Dobrev — do as well as can be expected with the (excuse the weak pun) pretty flat script, this remake likely will be all but forgotten shortly after it hits multiplexes this weekend." Peter Travers from Rolling Stone
jokes "the scariest thing in this fright-free fiasco is thinking medical schools are producing doctors this clueless" and eventually arrives at the conclusion that it is "even more witless and stupefyingly dull than the original." Consistent with the movie's subject, The A.V. Club
's Mike D'Angelo notes "Flatliners shouldn’t have bothered coming back from the dead."
While John DeFore from The Hollywood Reporter
simply figures the reboot is "as daffy as the original and a lot less fresh," CinemaBlend
's Conner Schwerdtfeger concludes his review with the words "Though competently directed and well-acted, Flatliners does little to set itself apart from a run-of-the-mill thriller. True to the material, it simply lacks a pulse. On a superficial level, the film will most likely deliver the requisite scares (albeit cheap jump scares) to enter the Halloween season, but it probably will fail to leave a lasting impression." The resume by Andrew Barker posted on Variety
isn't totally negative while raising a valid question: "As dull as it gets, Flatliners never sinks all the way into outright fiasco, and there's enough talent both behind and in front of the camera to keep things on the right side of basic competence. The actors do what they can with the material, and Oplev happens upon a few decent visual ideas. What's missing, however, is any indication why anyone involved wanted to revisit this material." "Flatliners is an agonizingly boring remake of a movie about the dangers of bringing things back from the dead. Even with Ellen Page and Diego Luna as sexy idiot doctors, this new version of a 1990 Joel Schumacher thriller is still a generic slog" is the word from David Ehrlich reviewing the movie for IndieWire
. Adam Nayman from The Ringer
even asserts "Page probably wishes that she was not in this movie either" and continues being sarcastic because "it's always nice when movies about which there's nothing worthwhile to say find the time to review themselves" after referring to a scene where "Courtney and James are comparing notes on what it's like to flatline, and she asks him if he saw anything disturbing, to which he replies, no." Screen Rant
's Chris Agar takes the view that "Flatliners is an unmemorable redux hampered by poor writing and a general lack of thrills that fails to capture the attention of its audience" and suggests "even those intrigued by marketing would be better off waiting for home video, or simply rewatching the 1990 version."
Unusually plain words come from Christian Holub reviewing for Entertainment Weekly
: "Flatliners is dull and indecisive. [...] It often feels like Flatliners is trapped between multiple genres without knowing exactly what kind of movie it wants to be, and the result is a confused mess." The Verge
's Tasha Robinson points out that "the Flatliners team could have saved their remake — and chose not to. Instead, they made a film about the dangers of playing God, or at least playing God with sloppy scientific protocols." Ryan Porter of Toronto Star
quips "the remake of this original Kiefer Sutherland/Julia Roberts blockbuster might be boring if it wasn't so unintentionally funny." And Mark Harrison from the website Den of Geek
comments "Ellen Page is far better than this sort of thing, and although she comes out of it the best, Ben Ripley's script really doesn't give the cast much to do." and finally puts the movie's main dilemma in a nutshell by expressing "Flatliners is a mediocre remake that utterly fails to update the original in any meaningful way. There is no reason for it to exist. But its failure is compounded by the fact that there was every chance of it being superior, with the right take. Instead, it's not scary, it's not thought-provoking and it's simply not worth your time."
What do you think of all those harsh words? And most importantly, if you have already seen the movie yourself, are the largely negative reviews justified? Feel free to leave your point of views in the comment section below!
(Last Update: October 17, 2017)