I’m one of those people who gets super excited about remakes. While nothing touches the original (except The Hills Have Eyes), I love venturing into new interpretations. This is especially exciting when it comes to Stephen King properties. His books are known for going to the extreme and include sequences deemed unfilmable. Anyone who has read “It” is well aware there will never be a 100% accurate adaptation as no major studio will come near an underage gang bang. Personally, his film and TV adaptations have been a 50/50 chance of being of decent quality. Some of the best ones are the original Carrie, Pet Sematary, Shawshank Redemption, and Stand By Me. Then, there are plenty of atrocities to come out and this version of FIRESTARTER is one of them.
Charlie (Ryan Kiera Armstrong) gets picked on by asshole kids so her ability to shoot fireballs comes out, causing violent destruction. The incident is blamed on an explosive device, but her parents know better. They signed up for experiments years ago and now have their own abilities. While they are able to keep their own powers discreet, Charlie cannot be controlled and go on the run. A bounty hunter from the company who experimented on them is hired to capture Charlie and take care of her situation.
Armstrong, who at 12 already has an impressive resume, gives it her all and hopefully, this dud of a movie doesn’t stall her from achieving greatness because she actually is really good. Zac Efron continues to attempt to solidify himself as an adult daddy type, but it’s very difficult to take him seriously. His High School Musical roots continue to haunt him as his acting never has really garnered any attention. Every time a new role of his is announced, it’s usually followed by some attention towards his looks. However, I can’t think of a single Efron movie that was successful without being part of an ensemble. His name and face are used simply for marketing purposes and that didn’t even work for FIRESTARTER. Horror fans everywhere scratched their heads when his casting was announced. He goes through the motions here, but so does the script. The movie feels way too much like Netflix’s Stranger Things and those unfamiliar with the source material will accuse it of being a ripoff.
The real delight here that doesn’t make FIRESTARTER a total waste is the retro score by John Carpenter, Cody Carpenter, and Daniel Davies. The opening credits is spliced with scenes of the experiments in neon colors, but glue you in with the score. There is a real mystery as to how these three got attached to this project as the score is clearly way too good for a movie like this.
Unfortunately, the special features do not delve into the score. Instead, there is a handle of mini-features exploring vague aspects of the film. It’s clear that the crew had faith in the project, but it feels like it was put together way too quickly and it would have been fun to see a bigger production made out of Charlie’s powers. If I’m going to watch a movie called FIRESTARTER, then I want everything bursting into flames, not just the occasional asshole.
FIRESTARTER bombed at the box office and probably will in physical media sales as the only redeeming quality is the score. Buy the vinyl instead!