firestarter 2022 stephen king poster

‘Firestarter’ Movie Review: Zac Efron Flops In New Stephen King Thriller

The original Firestarter adaptation from 1984 has a reputation more as a novelty rather than as a quality film. The movie came at the height of novelist Stephen King mania and was one of Drew Barrymore’s first major roles. While some remember the film more fondly than others, it’s not generally known as one of the better King films.

In comes this new version of Firestarter in 2022. There’s something of a new era of King craze at the moment. There have been highly-successful new adaptations of both IT and Pet Sematary in recent years. So it’s no surprise to see a new Firestarter trying to do the book justice. But does it do a better job adapting King’s 1980 classic better than the original? No. It actually manages to make the original look much better in comparison.

firestarter 2022 ryan kiera armstrong
Ryan Kiera Armstrong as Bobby in ‘Firestarter’

Dumpster Fire Starter

The two main draws of this movie are that it’s a Stephen King story and that it stars Zac Efron. Sorry to say that if you go to see this movie for either of those reasons, you’ll be unhappy. It fails to feel at all like the original King story, or like any King story he’s ever written. It lacks the terror or emotional depth, as well as the quirky and strange dialogue King is known for. None of the characters in this film seem to understand their motivations for doing anything at all. The evil medical facility wants to experiment on people just… because they want to. There’s no clear-cut end goal to anything.

Zac Efron is also either way out of his acting depth here or has no desire to be in the film whatsoever. He reacts to every situation with a level of apathy that will make you begin to wonder if Bobby’s father isn’t a sociopath. Terrible things happen to both himself and his family throughout the movie. But he has absolutely no emotional reaction to any of these things.

Many of the other performances in this film are lacking as well. Really the only one worth noting is from Kurtwood Smith. He’s barely in the film at all and his scene is more compelling than nearly anything else in this film, simply on the merit of him being willing to put some emotion into this thing.

Final Score For Firestarter

Overall Firestarter fails to deliver on essentially everything. Story, characters, anything remotely interesting. If one positive thing had to be said about the movie, it’s that the fire effects are done well. They’re bright, powerful, and visceral. If anything else in this movie could have been even half that potent there might be something worth revisiting here. As it is, Firestarter 2022 continues the legacy of leaving a good book in need of an adaptation of quality.

The final score for Firestarter: 1 out of 10.

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