Review: Flatliners remake dies on the table

Flatliners takes a really cool concept and completely squanders it.

Near-death experiences are one of the closest things we have to real, genuine paranormal or supernatural phenomena.

No matter how skeptical you are about that sort of thing, you cannot deny the very special and fascinating stories people tell after they almost die - or do die, but are then revived.

Med students experimenting with that in a feature-length film could be amazing and for a few brief moments, this film captures a little of that awe and wonder - but then very quickly it all devolves into a dreary, derivative mess.

The original wasn't a great film, but it worked well mainly because of the chemistry with its cast. The remake lacks that entirely, with characters that are really hard to care about.

Director Niels Arden Oplev gives the whole thing a made-for-TV, soap opera aesthetic, with a cast that look like models pretending to be doctors.

The worst problem, however, is the script. It stinks.

After the 'flatlining' begins, it very quickly turns into something about guilt tracking down the flatliners in the form of ghostly beings, trying to kill them.

There's some lame scares and then a message about atonement or something, made all the more annoying by ruining what could have been such an interesting film.

Two stars.

* Flatliners is in New Zealand cinemas now.