A successful Stephen King novel filmed again after almost four decades hardly has the ghastly aura or disturbing chills of the best horror entries with a little science-fiction and adventure added in.
Firestarter now has Zac Efron and Ryan Kiera Armstrong instead of David Keith and a precocious Drew Barrymore (just off of E.T.). The earlier opus also included Louise Fletcher, Heather Locklear, George C. Scott and Martin Sheen as part of an established, esteemed ensemble.
Director Keith Thomas and scribe Scott Teems (Halloween Kills) just can’t give this more contained entry about super-powers much immediacy relevance or acuity to boot.
Armstrong (Black Widow) as 11-year-old Charlie is the recipient of a pyrokinesis she’s just stating to comprehend. From the pretty stylish opening of the university couple. Efron’s Andy and Sydney Lemmon’s Vicky, agreeing to dubious medical trials that put them in the psychic, telekinetic realm (to varying degrees), respectively.
With extreme emotions setting off more than a spark, so to speak, life off the grid becomes more precarious after a school accident. Thomas can’t amp up the blindness with much vivid, blustery imagery that the long-ago predecessor did to try and cover up its defects.
While the synthesized sounds evoke the patented John Carpenter eeriness of more involving fare. The production is rather non-professional to say the least. It tries to accrue attention from a roguish, shady type (Michael Greyeyes) stained by the Captain (Gloria Reuben) to hunt down an imperiled, if threatening clan. To their credit, Efron and Armstrong do what they can to settle into their roles with some respectability, the former able to pull of a little star power.
Given the manageable run-time, the slack pacing just allows for minimal extreme jolts during predominant languor. Therefore, it doesn’t take much psychic ability to realize how scorched and uninspired this latest Firestarter is. One that’s likely to wind up as late-night viewing for horror devotees like a past miniseries incarnation on the former ‘Sci-Fi’ channel.