A young girl tries to understand how she mysteriously gained the power to set things on fire with her mind.

A young girl with the telekinetic ability to start fires goes on the run with her father in . When they were younger, Andy McGee () and his wife Vicky () were subjects of a drug trial conducted by Dr. Joseph Wanless (), which gave them telepathic and telekinetic abilities respectively. These psychic abilities have been inherited by their daughter Charlie (), who starts fires with her mind whenever she is agitated. When one of Charlie's outbursts at school results in their cover being blown, the family goes on the run from the government agency DSI, led by Captain Hollister (), who sends the Native American bounty hunter Rainbird () on their trail.

Firestarter is a film produced by Blumhouse and directed by Keith Thomas (The Vigil), based on the novel by Stephen King, which was previously adapted in a 1984 film starring a young Drew Barrymore. The backstory is told during the opening credits as college students Andy and Vicky McGee are subject to experiments that give them psychic abilities, with Andy having the power to control people's thoughts and Vicky having the telekinetic ability to move objects with her mind. The couple is living on the run from the government, trying to keep their daughter Charlie safe. However, when school bullying results in Charlie's pyro abilities manifesting, the family finds themselves no longer safe.

Firestarter is the latest in a recent resurgence of Stephen King adaptations that include 2017's IT and 2019's Pet Semartary, with a new version of Salem's Lot coming later this year. Arguably, Firestarter, published in 1980, is one of Stephen King's lesser-known novels, familiar only because of the original 1984 film adaptation directed by Mark L. Lester and starring a 9-year-old Drew Barrymore. In fact, the story seems quite reminiscent of King's 1974 novel “Carrie” (and its subsequent adaptations), except with a protagonist that is much younger.

It is obvious that Blumhouse and director Keith Thomas want this new version of Firestarter to be more associated with the 1984 than the novel, right down to copying the poster art. However, it's probably this association with the earlier film that ends up hurting this new version of Firestarter, since this film's young lead Ryan Kiera Armstrong (American Horror Story) is definitely no Drew Barrymore. In fact, despite having a known name such as Zac Efron in the film, there is something about this version of Firestarter that makes it feel like a low-quality TV remake.

It's a real shame that Firestarter isn't a better film since it has a score composed by John Carpenter, who was originally pegged to direct the 1984 version, along with Cody Carpenter and Daniel A. Davies. Carpenter's score is arguably the best element of this film and, in fact, I would almost recommend seeing the film, just to hear Carpenter's theme playing during the climax, but you can just as easily listen to the track on Spotify.

Over, this new version of Firestarter ends up being a bit of a disappointment. As such, I will leave you with the best element of the film.

Trailer for Firestarter

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How to Watch Firestarter

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.