FU­TURE SHOCKS

The di­rec­tor of the new Flat­lin­ers re­boot ex­plains how to mod­ernise a cult hit

Empire (UK) - - PRE.VIEW - WORDS IAN FREER

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.

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