It is not surprising to notice that Hollywood often remakes horror movies. Why create an original piece when you can just retell a story an audience already went to see, especially one that has instant name recognition? No franchise is sacred either. Many fans were disappointed when such beloved films as “Dawn of the Dead” and “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” were remade. There are also movies that did not have strong followings at their start; consequently, no one was upset when a filmmaker created a new version. “Firestarter” certainly falls into this last category. Frankly after seeing it, people may ask, “Why did they even bother?”
“Firestarter” is based on a Stephen King novel. The story is about a couple that underwent special testing where they are granted mind-altering power. They bear a child, Charlie, who has the ability to start fires. Well, Hell has no fury than a little girl who can say, “Liar, liar pants on fire.”
For a 90-minute film, this was a slow affair. If you were going to retell this story, the best approach probably would have been to find a new, fresh angle. New characters are introduced in this version, but none are extraordinary in any way. The performances from the actors are not memorable. Gloria Reuben’s portrayal of Captain Hollister, the main villain who oversees getting Charlie back is so BORING you don’t even care if she gets a proper comeuppance or not. The biggest surprise is Zac Efron. He usually does not play anything but comedies or musicals and, when he does, he can be awful (Charlie St. Cloud anyone?); but here, he turns in a decent performance. He was one of the only surprises to come from this film.
Director Keith Thomas, whose only other feature credit is “The Vigil”, cannot deliver any tension or scariness in this horror piece. The third act where Charlie (Ryan Kiera Armstrong) unleashes her full power is anticlimactic. It’s neither exciting to watch or nor is it even slightly engaging. The only real plus is the musical score that John Carpenter helped create. My advice is to buy the soundtrack to “Firestarter”, but not a ticket to see it.