Production on Sony's forthcoming reboot of Flatliners has really kicked into high gear in recent weeks, with original star Kiefer Sutherland agreeing to join the cast early in July, and an official release date for the project being announced not long after. However, with Sutherland involved, many fans wondered whether Flatliners would end up being a complete reboot of the continuity or instead simply a similar story taking place later in the same universe. Thanks to an interview with Sutherland, that question now appears to have been answered once and for all.
For the uninitiated, the original 1990 Flatliners was directed by filmmaker Joel Schumacher (A Time to Kill, Falling Down), and centered on a group of five young medical students who became obsessed with finding out what awaited them on the other side of death. So determined to find answers were these doctors in the making that they began to conduct clandestine experiments wherein one of them was rendered clinically dead for a matter of moments before being resuscitated, in the hopes that the briefly deceased subject would return with stories of existence beyond the grave.
During a recent chat with UK outlet Metro, Sutherland saw fit to spill the beans on his character in the Flatliners reboot, and in doing so also confirmed that the film is actually a sequel:
"I play a professor at the medical university. It is never stated but it will probably be very clearly understood that I’m the same character I was in the original Flatliners but that I have changed my name and I’ve done some things to move on from the experiments that we were doing in the original film. I loved making the first film and when I was asked if I would be interested in taking part in this, it didn’t take more than a minute to say yes."
While many are quick to dismiss remakes and reboots as being signs of Hollywood's lack of originality, this route is arguably the most creative one available to Sony, and it allows them to have their proverbial cake and eat it too. For those not invested in Flatliners 1990, Flatliners 2017 can simply be looked at as an exciting sci-fi/horror flick, starring a cast of five new young medical students (Ellen Page, Nina Dobrev, Diego Luna, James Norton, and Kiersey Clemons) interested in pushing the limits of life and death.
On the other hand, those with fond memories of the original Flatliners and Sutherland's character of Nelson Wright can get reacquainted with that film's world, and witness a modern evolution of what Nelson and friends attempted to do nearly 30 years prior. One wonders why more reboots/remakes don't go this route, as the inclusion of classic characters and settings can serve to engender good will with those who grew up with the older movie, even if they wouldn't otherwise be enthused about it getting a redo.
Flatliners arrives in theaters on August 18, 2017.