Resurrecting a cult classic
FLatLINerS Director Niels Arden Oplev on his reinterpretation of the classic afterlife thriller…
What happens to us after we die?” asks Ellen Page’s boffin Courtney Holmes. “The only way to find out is to see for ourselves.” As premises go, Flatliners is as intriguing as they come. “This concept of medical students going beyond death to explore what’s on the other side is outrageous – in a very cool way!” laughs Niels Arden Oplev, the Dane in charge of re-working this Brat Pack staple.
For those hazy on the 1990 original by Joel Schumacher, it starred Kiefer Sutherland, Kevin Bacon and Julia Roberts as med students craving near-death experiences. Oplev calls it “a fun, unusual film” but adds, “I don’t think anyone would call it a masterpiece! It’s more like a cult.” It’s this that gave him and screenwriter Ben Ripley the confidence to rub their cinematic defibrillators together and revitalise a dormant idea. “I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t feel that I could contribute something new.”
Oplev, of course, has been on the receiving end of a Hollywood remake. His 2009 Swedish-language version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo was remade two years later by David Fincher. “I was never upset with David;
characters into “highly ambitious” Ivy League students. “It’s so competitive to go to university today, so I thought that was an interesting motivation for them to try to do something like this.”
Oplev’s also looked to update the fright factor. “When they open a backdoor to everything that’s beyond death,” he grins, “it doesn’t go down quietly, right? The old film has its scary moments but the standard for scary has just developed so much over 25 years. So the new interpretation has to be scarier than the old film.”
Unsurprisingly, the director didn’t reach out to Schumacher for his blessing (“No, he would’ve told me to fuck off!”). But just as the classic “today is a good day to die” line gets a sort-of-airing, Kiefer Sutherland
Ellen Page’s Courtney heads the rebooted group of students craving a taste of the afterlife. She’s joined by Diego Luna’s Ray and Nina Dobrev’s Marlo (right).