September 9, 1990 -- ``Flatliners,'' a movie about medical students performing strange medical experiments to discover what the afterlife is like, is no flat drama, it is loaded with dramatic peaks.
Students Kiefer Sutherland (who has been in every movie released this summer) Julia Roberts and Kevin Bacon all take turns trying a few minutes of death to find out what is beyond life's threshold. A combination of drugs, lowered body temperature and electric shock is used to cause death (a flat line on the E.E.G., denoting no brain activity) and standard resuscitation techniques are used to bring them back.
The result of the experiments is that not only do they glimpse the afterlife, but the past sins of the students come back to haunt them, physically. Once you suspend your disbelief about these bizarre events, the rest of the film is not too hard to swallow.
The only way out of the trap is to atone for one's past sins. It is an interesting morality play, half science fiction and half fantasy. Despite the basically unbelievable premise of the story, the plot is very compelling.
The dialogue and acting are both first-rate. The photography has that great dark, murky quality, befitting the theme of the movie. The movie sets are wonderful, especially the murals and gargoyles around an old church where the experiments take place.
There is genuine suspense when some of the haunting spirits threaten to turn deadly and some of the students look like they won't come back from the dead after all.
This is a very interesting film and it, along with ``Darkman'' are well worth seeing and are among the best films to come out this summer. On a scale of one to 10 ``Flatliners'' rates an eight.
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