Flatliners Parent Guide
If you’re still wondering whether this movie is suitable for teens, then you missed the strong warning about its premise.
Parent Movie Review
There’s no shortage of movies depicting young people taking risks for the sake of entertainment. Flatliners offers a new twist (unless you’ve seen the 1990 Flatliners this remake is based upon). It depicts a dangerous behavior supposedly motivated by scientific research—and it will certainly kill you.
Courtney (Ellen Page) is one of five medical interns who are being challenged by their supervisor (Kiefer Sutherland, who also starred in the original) to work toward discovering something new in the field of medicine. It’s a high bar, especially for residents who often are expected to make life and death decisions without having slept for well over a day. Yet, knowing their future careers are on the line, Ray, Mario, Jamie, and Sophia (Diego Luna, Nina Dobrev, James Norton and Kiersey Clemons) eventually get talked into Courtney’s perilous experiment.
Meeting her colleagues in the stand-by medical facility deep inside the hospital’s basement, Courtney reveals her plan: She wants to have her heart stopped so she can discover if there is an afterlife. At first only Jamie and Sophia are willing to be part of the procedure. But after a hair-raising resuscitation, they all become curious. Their interest is especially heightened when Courtney suddenly appears smarter in every way and can even play complex piano pieces.
Then the side effects begin to emerge, but not until four of the five have given the death defying process a try. At this point, the script of Flatliners turns the corner and becomes more horror than thriller.
If you’re still wondering whether this movie is suitable for teens, perhaps you missed the warning about its premise. This is a film that glamorizes risk-taking behavior to the point of teetering on suicide. While scientific evidence suggesting the link between media portrayals of suicide and actual suicidal behavior is weak, there is concern these depictions could inspire imitative acts. In addition, without spoiling plot elements, parents should be aware that Courtney’s motivation for designing this “experiment” isn’t fully revealed until later in the story. Her reasons for wanting to dabble with death may initiate curiosity for viewers to try similar, hazardous activities.
The serious nature of this film’s message makes the two sex scenes seem trivial. Trust Hollywood screenwriters to come up with the idea that a near-death experience will leave women hungry for sex. The passionate interludes include non-explicit nudity along with sexual activity and sounds. Violent scenes offer images of corpses and fantastical dream-like sequences. A serious car accident is replayed twice and a character falls from a window. Profanities are infrequent, but include a sexual expletive. As well, the main characters are frequently depicted drinking alcohol, and illegal drug references are heard.
Entertainment-wise Flatliners feels long and struggles with clumsy editing and uninspired performances. One near-death experience feels like a direct rip-off from Inception (complete with horns blaring in the musical score), a movie that would be a far better viewing choice for older teens than this tale of quack med school interns.Directed by Niels Arden Oplev. Starring Ellen Page, Nina Dobrev, Diego Luna, James Norton, Kersey Clemons, Kiefer Sutherland. Running time: 108 minutes. Theatrical release September 29, 2017. Updated October 5, 2017
Rating & Content Info
Why is Flatliners rated PG-13? Flatliners is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for violence and terror, sexual content, language, thematic material, and some drug references.
Beyond the movie ratings: What Parents need to know about…
Violence: Many scenes depict young adults deliberating stopping their hearts in a medical setting and then being resuscitated after a period of a few minutes. While the “side effects” of these procedures are more fantastical than real (they see ghosts and other apparitions) the process may appear attractive to “at risk” audiences. A character falls from a window to the concrete sidewalk, we see the body. Corpses are depicted with blood and often in a frightening context. A serious car accident is seen in some detail and replayed later in flashback. Characters evade security and break through a parking lot gate. Characters drive dangerously. A character is trapped in an elevator. “Jump” scenes reveal corpses and ghoulish images.
Sexual Content: Two scenes depict unmarried men and women having sex, both with non-explicit nudity and one with some sexual discussion, activity and sounds. Near naked photos of a female are seen on a computer screen. A female character says a deliberate near-death experience left her feeling “kind of sexual”. A male medical intern mistakenly tells a male hospital patient that he needs to perform a testicular exam; when the patient firmly rejects the procedure, the intern discovers it was a practical joke.
Profanity: A single sexual expletive is heard, a crude finger gesture is seen, and other infrequent, mild profanities are included. Some sexual innuendo and discussion are heard.
Alcohol / Drug Use: In multiple scenes characters are depicted consuming hard liquor and other alcohol. A character compares taking LSD to a near-death experience. A character says he likes working anesthesia shifts because you can get access to “the best drugs”.
Page last updated October 5, 2017
More parents' guide for Flatliners after the break...
Flatliners Parents' Guide
The one truth in this movie is that medical interns have long been expected to work grueling shifts over 24 hours long. While the length of shifts has improved somewhat, the demanding nature of becoming a doctor is still very real. This article in The Atlantic tells how things are slowly changing.
News About "Flatliners"
Promotional materials implied this was a sequel to the 1990 Flatliners, which enjoyed a cult following. (After viewing it – the movie appears more like a remake.) The first movie starred Kiefer Sutherland, Julia Roberts, Kevin Bacon, Billy Baldwin and Oliver Platt, who also played medical students experimenting with life-after-death experiences. And they suffered the consequences of having past mistakes come back to haunt them as well.
Of the original cast, only Kiefer Sutherland will make an appearance in the 2017 production. The young team of doctor hopefuls will be played by Ellen Page, Nina Dobrev, Diego Luna, James Norton, and Kersey Clemons.