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In a strange twist of irony, Joel Schumacher’s Flatliners is being brought back to life. Columbia Pictures has ordered a screenplay for the 1990 medical thriller, which featured “up-and-comers” Julia Roberts, Kiefer Sutherland and Kevin Bacon as med school students experimenting with death to see if an afterlife exists.
Before you go dismissing this as another cheap studio bid to harness audience nostalgia, know that Columbia reportedly has handed the writing assignment to Ben Ripley, scripter of Duncan Jones’s sci-fi mystery Source Code, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Given how that film [SPOILER ALERT if you have not seen Source Code!] dabbled in the unique powers humans can harness when trapped in that thin void separating life and death, one can see how Ripley is the right hire for the job.
In hindsight, Schumacher’s Flatliners also served as a predecessor for the Final Destination franchise. The characters in the film cheated death, dying momentarily before being revived by their peers. But when they returned to the land of the living, they often brought some terrible memory back with them, forcing these cavalier doctors to face consequences for their reality-bending decisions. It’s unclear whether Ripley will play up the horror aspects of the premise, of if he’ll stick to the medical-laced science-fiction that powered Peter Filardi’s original screenplay.
Finally, we’re left to wonder who will be cast in the remake. Roberts, at the time, was coming off Steel Magnolias, Mystic Pizza and an indie film called Pretty Woman. Hollywood likely will cast Selena Gomez in her role. So long as she brings Justin Bieber for Sutherland’s part, I’m all in. It’s also worth noting that after remakes of Footloose, Fright Night, the recently announced Dirty Dancing and others, the Hollywood remake express has reached the 1990s. Expect news about a Driving Miss Daisy remake starring Keenan Thompson and Kristen Wiig any day now.