Firestarter (2022) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

Firestarter (2022) Review

Horrorific content by christina on June 29th, 2022 | Movie Review | Supernatural, Blumhouse, Sci-Fi, Drama, Mutant, Thriller, Police, Revenge, Mad Scientist

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It's about a mother, father, and daughter with supernatural abilities on the run from a shadowy government organization that wants to capture and perform experiments on them.

Firestarter was directed by Keith Thomas (The Vigil) and stars Ryan Kiera ArmstrongSydney LemmonZac Efron (Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile), Michael Greyeyes (Blood Quantum), and Gloria Reuben.

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As any horror fan already knows all too well, remakes of anything well-known can be hit-or-miss at best. Sure, there’s a chance the filmmaker will go the extra mile to bring something fresh to the table and portray familiar characters in fresh, new ways. But there’s also a high likelihood the film will simply rehash what’s already been done in the most boring way possible.

Keith Thomas’s 2022 remake of 1984’s Firestarter is also based on the hit Stephen King novel of the same name. It stars Zac Efron, Ryan Kiera Armstrong, Sydney Lemmon, and Kurtwood Smith, among others.

If you’re familiar with either the original Firestarter or the King novel it was based on, then you’ll already have a pretty good idea of what to expect from Thomas’s remake right off the bat. It’s the story of a little girl named Charlie McGee (Armstrong). She is the daughter of parents Andy (Efron) and Vicky (Lemmon), who acquired psychokinetic powers via an experimental drug test they underwent in college.

As a result of her parentage, Charlie also has an extraordinary power – pyrokinesis, the ability to start fires with her mind. (She also has psychokinetic powers similar to her parents’, but the storyline doesn’t focus as much on those.)

Andy and Vicky can’t quite agree on how best to raise Charlie regarding teaching her how to manage her powers. Vicky no longer uses her powers for reasons that aren’t entirely clear and wants to teach Charlie how to use and control hers properly. Meanwhile, Andy uses his powers regularly, but at a cost. Causing him to bleed from the eyes every time, it clearly takes a toll on him, so he teaches Charlie to suppress her own powers in an effort to spare her the pain he experiences.

However, Charlie’s parents soon realize they have bigger problems on their hands than how best to raise their daughter to feel about her powers. Jane Hollister (Gloria Reuben) is the new officer in charge of a place called the Shop, the very same place where Andy and Vicky acquired their powers years ago. Hollister now wants to get her hands on Charlie, so she enlists the help of bounty hunter John Rainbird (Michael Greyeyes) to do it, forcing the McGee family to go on the run in an effort to preserve their freedom.

If you think that plot sounds nearly exactly like the original movie and the novel it was based on, you’re not wrong. The story progression of Firestarter 2022 doesn’t deviate much from the story everyone already knows, except in small ways. For example, Andy bleeds from the eyes instead of the nose when he uses his powers. Thomas also elects to have the plot follow a linear pattern from start to finish instead of using flashbacks to clarify how exactly Charlie and her father wound up on the run.

However, that’s not the only reason this film feels predictable and winds up going exactly where you expect it to. So much about Firestarter is disappointingly formulaic, even if you’re not already familiar with the story. And some changes that were likely meant to make the film feel edgier just wind up feeling gimmicky instead, as with some of the graphic gore.

Worth Watching? 

However, Firestarter isn’t necessarily a bad film. Some of the performances are stronger than others, but Ryan Kiera Armstrong turns in a terrific performance as Charlie. There’s also an incredible score by John and Cody Carpenter to get seriously excited about here. Overall, the film won’t blow your hair back or give the original a run for its money, but it’s watchable enough if you keep your expectations in check.

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