To expand upon my quick thoughts in the video, Firestarter (2022) is a sci-fi thriller film directed by Keith Thomas (The Vigil), from a screenplay by Scott Teems (Halloween Kills). Featuring Zac Efron, Ryan Kiera Armstrong, Sydney Lemmon, Kurtwood Smith, John Beasley, Michael Greyeyes, and Gloria Reuben. A reboot of the 1984 film and based on the Stephen King novel, the story follows Andy and Charlie McGee, a father and daughter on the run from a government agency who wishes to capture Charlie for her terrifyingly powerful pyrokinetic ability.
As the film starts Vicky Tomlinson-McGee (Sydney Lemmon) is breastfeeding her daughter Charlie as her husband Andy McGee (Zac Efron) watches over them. They exchange smiles, put Charlie in her crib, and head to bed. In her crib, Charlie stares at her planetary mobile and it begins to catch fire. Charlie feeling that something is amiss goes to check on his daughter. He sees the mobile burning above her and saves his daughter before it falls on top of her.
As the opening credits roll, a flashback shows college-aged Andy and Vicky. They are spoken to by an offscreen voice (Kurtwood Smith) confirming that they wish to take part in the medical trial and have no living family. He also asks them if they have ever had anything weird happen to them. Vicky wishes not to talk about it and Andy mentions seeing his parents die in a car crash a week before it happened. He explains to them that they will be injected with an experimental chemical drug known as Lot-6. As they are tested the drug begins to have adverse effects on both of them.
Stephen King is probably the most iconic horror writer of our time. From The Shawshank Redemption to Doctor Sleep, many of King’s novels and short stories have been adapted into films and limited series. The original It miniseries had me scared of bathrooms for years. A lot of the movies are considered cult classics and studios have even taken to rebooting some of them such as It and Pet Cemetery. So, with the streaming wars going full steam ahead and studios buying IP to boost their content library to gain more subscribers, it makes sense that Stephen King novels would be a well they would want to go back to.
What makes some of the older adaptations enjoyable is the creative license the directors and writers took with King’s work. The changes Stanley Kubrick made in The Shining helped it to become known as of the greatest horror films of all time. The same cannot be said for Firestarter (2022). This film feels lifeless on almost every level. The story is bland and the character motivations are obscure. The story itself is unreliable when it comes to what psychic powers individuals have. It’s revealed Andy had precognition before he received Lot-6 but afterward, he is shown to have telepathy. Vicky has telekinetic abilities and Charlie (Ryan Kiera Armstrong) is pyrokinetic. However, later on in the film, Charlie also manifests the powers of her parents. She can get into people’s heads and move things with her mind. Her ability to do this is not explained. Another character, John Rainbird (Michael Greyeyes), is said to have psychic abilities as well, yet, he never displays what they are. Which is weird as he was chosen to capture Charlie for that specific reason.
Firestarter (2022) is not without some merit. Zac Efron turns in a great performance as a loving father and I think he tried his best to make the role his own. The same can be said for Sydney Lemmon. Although her role is small, she had great chemistry with Efron during the scenes they shared. Ryan Kiera Armstrong portrayed Charlie as endearing, confused, sad, and scared, every emotion a child going through this situation would feel. Also, proper respect to Sarah Domeier Lindo (The Invisible Man) and Terri Taylor (The Forever Purge) for casting a Native American actor in the role of John Rainbird. The role was previously portrayed by Caucasian actor George C. Scott.
Unfortunately, this movie feels like the pilot episode of a series that wasn’t picked up, and maybe a miniseries is where this reboot should have gone. I give Firestarter (2022) a Bad 4.7/10. If Peacock wants to pull more subscribers to their streaming service they should focus on content that would bring them back for more. There is more about this world that they could have explored if they just took the license to go deeper.