Firestarter

Universal Pictures

Written by Scott Teems (based on the novel by Stephen King)

Directed by Keith Thomas

Starring Zac Efron, Ryan Kiera Armstrong, Sydney Lemmon, Michael Greyeyes, Gloria Reuben, Kurtwood Smith, John Beasley and Tina Jung

Rated R

A girl with extraordinary pyrokinetic powers fights to protect her family and herself from sinister forces that seek to capture and control her.

I tend to consider myself a Stephen King devotee in the sense that I have read all of his stories and seen all of the adaptations of his work. There are some that work really well and others that usually have something fundamentally missing from them that make them not revisiting. The 2022 adaptation of King’s novel falls flatly in the latter category.

The 1984 adaptation of Firestarter starring Drew Barrymore omitted a lot of the story elements that were necessary to develop the characters. What it did do well was have heart, style and visual thrills. Keith Thomas’ adaptation lacks all three of those things as well as no character development. The story feels rushed from moment to moment and you never get a sense of the characters or their peril.

The movie spends way too much time on Zac Efron’s character Andy. While his character is important to the plot, the story is about Charlie and her journey. The lead character feels like a passenger in her own story which is a shame because Ryan Kiera Armstrong does her best with what she has to work with. Efron’s performance is ok, but the constant focus on him makes his character more annoying than useful.

Gloria Reuben as the film’s villain doesn’t really have much to do other than deliver a couple of one liners. She doesn’t seem to influence events in any way. She just waits around for events to happen. Michael Greyeyes was good as John Rainbird, but his lack of character development made his turn towards the end of the film feel cheap.

I’m not personally averse to watching a bad movie. In fact, there are several that I love watching over and over again in the horror genre. What I am averse to is a movie that looks bad and this one looks really bad. I’m not sure what director Thomas’ vision was for this film, but I hope it wasn’t the cheesy, made-for-basic-cable look that we got. The finale of the film looked like it came straight from an episode of Silk Stalkings from the 90’s in both its color scheme and camera movement.

The 2022 remake of Firestarter was poorly executed from both the script focus to the direction. It took a good story and removed all the heart, chills, tension and thrills from it and delivered a bland experience with a couple of explosions. This Firestarter definitely should have been snuffed out.

Firestarter

5.4

5.4/10

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