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‘Firestarter’ Review: A Scary Remake Without Spark


The first “Firestarter” (1984) starred 10-year-old Drew Barrymore as a girl who could start a fire – with her brain, which makes all the difference. It was based on a novel by Stephen King who married “Carrie” – Ridolent Telekinesis, to the madness of “Three Days of Condor”. The power of the little girl, and the power of her parents, was the result of shady government agency experiments.

This is also true here, in a remake directed by Keith Thomas from Scott Thames’ script. But the theme of madness, in which the girl, Charlie (Ryan Kiara Armstrong) and her family are sitting off the grid at the beginning of the film, is quickly removed. The film manages to entertain as well as inform – the most shocking thing about it is how uncooperative it is.

Zac Efron pays tribute to Andy, Charlie’s father, and he has the powers too – by choking his throat, he can cloud people’s minds. Only this act hurts him and at the end of “X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes” his eyes bleed like Ray Milland’s. Charlie has inherited his power (without bleeding).

You would think that this would add some punch to the proceedings, but it didn’t. The final face-off between Charlie and a supersillius military villain (Gloria Ruben) is surprisingly anticlimactic, and the then-child-killing whip is simply plain. It’s also one of those movies where you can’t tell if special effects are junk.

The best thing about this movie is the stressful electronic score, made by Daniel Davis, Cody Carpenter and his father John Carpenter. Yes, that’s John Carpenter – one of the great American directors, and one who makes genre movies almost exclusively. Old magazine puzzles used to ask, what’s wrong with this picture?

Rated for fire, curse. Running time: 1 hour 34 minutes. In theaters and In peacock.

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