There are two categories of remakes – the cash grab that is clearly made to mint money and the homage that brings enough to the table to justify its existence. For example, the remake of It was a welcome update to the original that improved on the original. Pet Sematary on the other hand, probably didn’t need to be remade. Firestarter, a remake of a 1984 film based on a book by Stephen King falls somewhere in the middle. It’s a generally well made horror movie that is fun to watch even though it doesn’t seem to break any new ground. Did it need to be made? Probably not. Will you enjoy watching it? Certainly.
The new incarnation of Firestarter stars Zac Efron, playing a more serious role than I’m used to seeing him in (Baywatch movie, Neighbors). He puts in a surprisingly effective performance as the father of a child with the power to set fire with her mind. Ryan Kiera Armstong steps into Drew Barrymore’s shoes as the firestarter and brings an interesting mix of creepy and sympathetic to the role. The relationship between the two of them is the engine that elevates the movie above many other remakes.
A movie called Firestarter better have good fire special effects and this is where the movie generally excels, mixing in different types of fire. This movie doesn’t go over the top with special effects, but it does a nice job of portraying mental powers that on their face don’t have great visuals using sound and camera effects. Speaking of sound, the soundtrack is another strong point of the movie. This isn’t surprising because the music for the film was made by John Carpenter, Cody Carpenter, and Daniel Davies and their work here gives off some strong Halloween vibes (which isn’t surprising since they collaborated with Blumhouse on Halloween (2018) and Halloween Kills).
Firestarter isn’t a movie anyone was asking for, but it exceeded my expectations. It doesn’t break any new ground, but it is a solid film full of jump scares and solid acting performances. If you like producer Jason Blum’s Invisible Man, you’ll probably like Firestarter.
Here is the Through the Lens podcast episode where Tracey Payton and I review Firestarter: https://anchor.fm/darren-shulman/episodes/Firestarter-Review-e1if5jj
My score: 7 out of 10
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