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Flatliners (1990)

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Four Medical students experiment on "near death" experiences that involve past tragedies until the dark consequences begin to jeopardize their lives.



3,698 ( 76)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Flatliners (2017)
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Medical students experiment on "near death" experiences that involve past tragedies until the dark consequences begin to jeopardize their lives.

Director: Niels Arden Oplev
Stars: Nina Dobrev, Kiefer Sutherland, Ellen Page


Cast overview, first billed only:
Joshua Rudoy ...
Aeryk Egan ...
Kesha Reed ...
John Duda ...
Young David (as John Joseph Duda)
Megan Stewart ...
Playground Kid
Playground Kid


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. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Some lines shouldn't be crossed.


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

10 August 1990 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Línea mortal  »

Box Office


$26,000,000 (estimated)


$61,490,000 (USA)

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (digital 35 mm prints)| (analog 35 mm prints)


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Debut film and television credit of actress Patricia Belcher. See more »


Defibrillator only works properly against bare skin. The proper medical procedure requires removal of clothing and undergarments around the chest prior to application. See more »


[first lines]
Nelson Wright: Today is a good day to die.
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Referenced in Saturday Night Live: Jeff Goldblum/Aerosmith (1993) See more »


Written and Performed by David A. Stewart (as Dave Stewart)
Courtesy of BMG Records (UK) Ltd.
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Flatliners builds a Suspension Bridge between Life and Death, then starts walking on it
12 October 2009 | by (Ottawa, Canada) – See all my reviews

Countless TV displays and the memorable appearances from 4 of today's mega-stars(plus Hope Davis's screen debut) keep Flatliners still in prudence. The plot is about a non-academic research of five medicine undergrads pursuing one's crazy idea on discovering the secret of death, and learn what's after death, then come back to life again. Yet the storyline hasn't been designed as fascinating as the idea of the plot.

There are popular stereotypes to develop a regular teen-slasher script in Flatliners. There is Nelson who creates the idea of decoding death, pretty but introverted Rachel, David who cuts the Gordian knot on luckily not to be dismissed from the school, ladies' man Joe and finally the smart guy Randy("I did not come to medical school to murder my class mates no matter how deranged they might be"). They join hands altogether in an experiment where Nelson's heart will be stopped and rerythmed. Then they decide to continue this experiment in strict confidence at night times in the campus. Not long after Nelson's experience everyone starts a race over having the wildest and the longest death experience, risking their lives one by one. Yet, soon they realize their daily life becomes affected from those experiences they had. The visits to the afterlife brings back their delinquent feelings from their childhood memories. Depolarizing their deep subconscious watchfulness, they begin having somatic delusions and visual hallucinations.

When the point comes where the explanation of subconscious, director Joel Schumacher skips that every humankind has a subconscious personality which they are not aware of. This inner personality keeps one from altering into identity loss. If you lose or if you depolarize this subconscious personality you certainly lose your identity instead of refreshing childhood memories. I wanted to add this as a movie mistake, which already has been mentioned via movie critics in the earlier 90s'. Obviously here in this movie Schumacher made the actors have it least affected. Then why do they hesitate continuing on the experiment after learning their lesson, as if death is designed indiscoverable by God? David had been introduced as an Atheist, now he turned out to believe in God when he recalled a flashback from his childhood. After witnessing this 180 degreed change in David, it's clear to see that Schumacher's film was so conservative and lily-livered; that's ultimately why it's never classified as a work of science fiction. Alas! It had a good potential. It even tried to tell the unconscious maturation from having a death experience, beginning to believe that death is so simply natural and it's only a part of a human's life.

More than what's in the movie, it was also memorable to recall what's with the movie. Jan de Bont as the cinematographer, who had worked almost every time with Schumacher, creates an dreamy atmosphere like it's being an Gothic horror movie. The blue color schemes all over the walls reflecting into the actors' faces deliver first class of lighting, that suits perfectly with the film. The close-up shots of the gargoyle statues in the campus buildings, Catholic frescoes in the walls, stop-motion cameras, and the dynamic camera speeds were all belong to Bont's skills.

Flatliners became a cult movie in time with its sociological pen-portrait of the X-generation juvenile especially via its futuristic editing style with storyboard connection sequences like being part of a video music clip so much aesthetically. Those were the times where fast-paced and multi-sequenced video music clips were on rise. This style was very rare to come across in those years after its pioneer Tony Scott's "The Hunger(1983)".

20 of 33 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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