The Flatliners remake cut a scene explicitly tying it to the 1990 original, director Niels Arden Oplev has confirmed. Horror movies are having something of a banner year in 2017; critically and commercially. IT is on the verge of becoming the highest grossing horror film of all time – surpassing The Exorcist and The Sixth Sense – and was backed by strong reviews. Other horror flicks such as Get Out, Annabelle: Creation and Gerald’s Game have also performed strongly.
Which isn’t to say there hasn’t been a few duds, including Rings and The Bye Bye Man. The new Flatliners is another one to add to the disappointment pile, earning widely negative reviews and failing to make an impact at the box office. It was a generic, dull remake of the cult original, so the “Flatliners Flatlines!” headlines practically wrote themselves. The film also seemed to suggest it was a sequel by casting original lead Kiefer Sutherland in a supporting role – but the film itself does little to suggest he’s playing the same role.
It turns out an ending was shot confirming he was indeed Nelson from the original, director Oplev admitted in a new Collider interview. During the conversation, the filmmaker talks about deleted scenes and describes how this ending would have played out.
“And there was a scene with Kiefer [Sutherland], where he told, it was in the very end of the film, and he told this long, strange story about a famous doctor, that had death as his Godfather. And he does it super well and it like two minutes long, and Diego [Luna] and Kiersey [Clemons] and James [Norton] are sitting there, as their characters, staring at him thinking ‘what the f*** is going on with him.’
And he kinda ends up saying you, ‘You can’t cheat death, and believe me, I know.’ Which… ‘Trust me, I know.’ Which was a scene that the older audience liked. Because, it was like, ‘Oh, he is, he has changed his name but he is Nelson from the old film.’ But the younger audience didn’t understand diddly-squat of that scene. They were like, ‘Why… What the hell is this guy talking about?’ So in the end, it slowed down the ending and I just decided that the younger audience, the new generation of Flatliners is mainly who this film is for. And the older audience who can remember the old film, they would you know who Kiefer’s character is, maybe. It’s ambiguous but they’ll think that he is him anyhow and then that’s where it’ll have to live.”
It feels like a strange move to delete this explicit tie, considering part of the reason fans of the original were even halfway curious about Flatliners 2017 was Sutherland’s reappearance. A TV spot for the film even played up the actor’s return, so to make it ambiguous as to whether or not he’s the same guy feels like it creates needless confusion.
That said, it’s doubtful this scene would have made the movie any better. While the original movie isn’t a horror classic, it was a stylish, creepy thriller with a great premise and a game cast. Most of all it was fun – an ingredient sorely lacking from Flatliners 2017. For fans of the original who are disappointed this ending was cut, Oplev states in the interview it will appear on Blu-ray and DVD.
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