Stephen King has long been considered the master of the macabre for decades now and had little skin in the game when Firestarter was brought to the masses in the 80’s. First published in September 1980 and nominated as Best Novel for the British Fantasy Award, Locus Poll Award and Balrog Award, its first film adaptation starred a young Drew Barrymore fresh off of here other Sci Fi hit E.T. Now, director Keith Thomas and Jason Blum brings us the reboot with a young Ryan Kiera Armstrong and Zac Efron in a string of what seems to be throwing him in the hot Dad lane.
Firestarter centers around a young couple (Zac Efron and Sydney Lemmon) desperately try to hide their daughter, Charlie (Ryan Kiera Armstrong), from a federal agency seeking to harness her unique gift for turning fire into a weapon of mass destruction. With her father’s assistance, she discovers how to direct her urges. But as Charlie turns 11, the fire becomes harder and harder to control. When a mysterious operative finally locates the family, he tries to seize Charlie, but she has other plans.
Two things, other than the star power of Armstrong is Gloria Reuben as the ruthless villain Captain Hollister. She’s focused, fierce and unapologetic. In addition, with the fight for diversity at the forefront these days, it was nice to see a real person of Native descent as Rainbird (Michael GreyEyes) as opposed to using a white man (as was done in the previous version with Oscar winner George C. Scott). Not to mention that John Carpenter was finally given his props by contributing to the score – a staple of this franchise and of Carpenter himself and that blood spurting from the eye of Efron is creepy yeet cool.
The film is a slow burn for sure, but that last quarter makes up for what the rest of film lacks regarding pacing. There’s no doubt it’s horror as seen from the numerous times I peeped through my fingers to watch, but you all know what a lightweight I am with this genre. Firestarter is in theaters and streaming via Peacock app.