Review: Firestarter

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An unfortunate nonstarter of a film, Firestarter squanders its source material and the talent of its cast to deliver a neutered remake of a Stephen King classic.

Charlie (Ryan Kiera Armstrong) can create fire, making her of interest to the federal government and leading her parents (Zac Efron and Sydney Lemmon) to protect her at all costs as her powers grow ever more out of control. The original 1984 film was a fun horror, superhero-esque romp that is squandered in director Keith Thomas’ remake. It’s clear throughout that writer Scott Teems’ script simply doesn’t provide the talent involved with anything to work with, resulting in a muted performance by Efron and a rushed story that doesn’t allow for proper development. The ending is equally as perplexing as the unexplained “powers” throughout the film, an obvious attempt at exploring forgiveness, but again an underdeveloped angle. 

The changes made to the original source material harm the film more than they help it and are often unnecessary. Though the practical effects are a nice touch and young Armstrong is fun to watch, everything else is an explosion of mediocrity. Why include Kurtwood Smith without fleshing out his character? Was the score recycled from John Carpenter’s scraps of previous films? Firestarter has moments of potential that are squandered, especially from a clever director who delivered such a well-made horror as The Vigil. Some films shouldn’t be remade.

Firestarter is now streaming on Peacock and playing in theaters.

Rating: 2/5

Photo from IMDb

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