Movie Reviews

Directed by Joel Schumacher
Starring: Kiefer Sutherland, Julia Roberts, Kevin Bacon, William Baldwin, Oliver Platt, Kimberly Scott
Review by Melissa R. Mendelson


Medical students begin to explore the realm of near death experiences, hoping for insights. Each has their heart stopped and is revived. They begin having flashes of walking nightmares from their childhood, reflecting sins they committed or had committed against them. The experiences continue to intensify, and they begin to be physically beaten by their visions as they try and go deeper into the death experience to find a cure.

NOMINATED for Best Special Effects OSCAR


What is our fascination with death? What feeds our need to know more? Is it fear that there is nothing waiting on the other side, or is it wonder to know if life exists beyond life? What drives our imagination to create so many movies based on death, and why must we feel drawn to watching and hearing every story made and written? What really lies deep within our fascination?

With every step into this world, we experience life. Mistakes made and that could never be changed haunt us. Loved ones leave us too soon, and some still carry the blame of not doing enough, not being there, and living on beyond them. Taking every moment for granted and breaking all the rules is one road many take, but how far will they reach toward the end? The definition of life is the sum of all of our experiences, but once we experience death, what would define us then?

The hunger to know what really lies beyond, to prove that life still exists after death fuels one man’s bold experiment to cross that divide. Pulling a team of young, talented minds together, one doctor, Nelson puts the question to the test and places his life literally on the line. The sound of his heart races along the monitor, and minutes later… Flatline.

After a brief struggle to regain his life, the team succeeds in bringing Nelson back to the world of the living, but what they don’t realize is that he does not return alone. And one after another, members of the team take turns “walking on the moon” and experiencing life beyond death, but one by one, they discover that their amazing adventure comes with a heavy price. And there is no turning back.

The past has always stayed one footstep behind, but when you experience death, it now walks ahead but then turns around to stare you right in the face. All the mistakes that you could never erase wait to strike back. All your selfish, ruthless acts wait to taunt you. All the ones that you wronged get their revenge, and “in the end, we all know what we have done.”

The question of is there life after death has been answered, but what about all your sins let loose upon your life? How do you take back the past? How can you fight death?

Redemption. Face the past. Confront yourself. Admit being wrong and pay the price, but how can you, if the one you wronged is dead? Where do you go from there?

For one member of the team, opportunity reveals itself in her darkest moment. The blame that Rachel carried over her father’s death brings her face to face with the man that now haunts her, and no matter how hard she fights to escape, the past was waiting for her. And her father slowly rises to meet her and asks for her forgiveness, embracing her in his love, and all the blame that has held her prisoner for so long melts away. And her father’s spirit is finally at rest.

But for Nelson to find his redemption, he would once again have to cross that divide, and there was no coming back. He would confront his past, right his wrongs, and sacrifice his life. This was all his doing and his price to pay, and his heart frantically beats along the monitor. Minutes later… Flatline.

And the team hurries to his rescue, a race against time, but death is against them. And after a long struggle, they surrender, admitting defeat. The question of is there life beyond death should never been answered because you open a door that could never be closed afterward, and a heavy price has to be paid. But would they pay for it with Nelson’s life, and the answer is… No, and again they try to save him. And in the end… “Today is not a good day to die.”

With the heart and soul of a talented cast, brilliant writing, and a perfect example of a classic movie, Flatliners breaks ground in our hunt to know what lies across the divide between life and death. The storyline carries us through flickering, illuminated lights of experience, the past lying in red, and into the darkness, where the ghosts are waiting. We are carried along waves of passion and dedication by actors bringing their characters to life, and they captivate us in their struggle against what lies in wait. And the music lifts our spirits, touches our hearts, and carries us off in the end, and this movie marks forever a deep impression in our hunt to know life beyond death.

2 thoughts on “FLATLINERS, 1990

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