The director of the new Flatliners reboot explains how to modernise a cult hit
THE STORY OF medical students who experiment with stopping their hearts to visit the afterlife, Joel Schumacher’s 1990 culty
Flatliners is a sky-high concept ripe for reworking. Director Niels Arden Oplev talks us through his five steps to update it for 2017.
1 RESPECT THE CONCEPT
Keeping the essence of the idea intact was key. “I loved the ensemble feeling of doing something outrageous together like a secret society,” says Oplev. However, he did change the constitution of the ensemble. “To make it four guys and one girl would feel wrong in the modern world today.” It’s now a mixed-race group of three women (Ellen Page, Nina Dobrev, Kiersey Clemons) and two men (Diego Luna, James Norton).
2 MIX UP THE CASTING
Leading this group is Ellen Page as a driven medical student with a dark secret. Oplev was drawn to Page’s ability to straddle mainstream and indie worlds. “Because it deals with death and what happens when you cross over, it naturally has a depth that goes beyond a normal studio film. Ellen leads us perfectly into that balance of intellectual and commercial.”
3 KEEP IT REAL
Top of Oplev’s to-do list was injecting more credibility, especially around why anyone would do such a dangerous thing. Hence the setting has shifted to an ambitious Ivy League school, and Oplev even hired engineers to create feasible MRI technology. “It’s so real we need to have a sign saying, ‘Don’t try this at home,’” he jokes.
4 TURN ON THE DARK
The film’s afterlife has been rejuvenated. “It’s mainly flashbacks in the old film,” notes Oplev. “In this version, we go fully into a strange parallel world to our own. It’s basically a trip, like you’ve taken LSD. It has to be like a thrill ride.”
5 BRING BACK AN OLD FAVOURITE
When the script called for a professor, it seemed a fitting way to pay tribute to the original flatliner — Nelson Wright, played by Kiefer Sutherland. “It gives a nice mystery to it — do they know he has done it himself? His performance is great.”
FLATLINERS IS IN CINEMAS FROM 29 SEPTEMBER
Marlo (Nina Dobrev) finds herself flat out. Below: Ellen Page as Courtney on set with director Niels Arden Oplev. Bottom: Courtney (Page) is in for a shock.