Firestarter, the review: If Stephen King meets the Blumhouse …

Firestarter: Ryan Kiera Armstrong in a picture

Two destinies that come together, as that famous song said. We talk about Jason Blum, and his production house, Blumhouse, and Stephen King. There Firestarter reviewthe movie to be released in theaters on May 12th distributed by Universal Pictures, it can only start with these two big names. Stephen King he needs no introduction, he is the master of thrills, the most famous writer in the world when it comes to horror. Jason Blum is certainly known to fans of the genre, because he was able, with his production company, to relaunch a genre with strong stories, new languages ​​and authors with their own precise poetics. A marriage that needs to be done, in theory. The opportunity is Firestarter, based on the novel of the same name (L’incendiaria in the Italian version) which was already brought to the great mockery in 1984 with the title (Italian) Uncontrollable paranormal phenomena and a very young Drew Barrymore as the protagonist. It is the story of a young girl with a very powerful mind, capable of unleashing firestorms. A phenomenon that she cannot control, and for which she is forced to live in hiding with her family. The ingredients for a successful film are all there. We like the story because it’s seen from the girl’s point of view, but the film lacks that seed of madness, that sense of uncanny that is typical of Stephen King.

A storm of flames

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Firestarter: Ryan Kiera Armstrong in a moment in the film

Andy (Zac Efron) and Vicky (Sydney Lemmon), have just put their baby daughter to bed. They are in their bedroom, but, in the bedroom, the mobile with the planets hanging over her cradle catches fire. Andy wakes up with a start. It’s just a dream? A premonitory dream? A memory? Charlie (Ryan Kiera Armstrong), now 11, confides to her father that something in her is changing. There is something about her, that something bad. While the opening credits of the film tell us the background, linked to the parents, we see Charlie at school. It’s a school like many others, with the usual bullies, who call it “strange“Only that she, faced with mounting anger, is unable to hold back her reactions. And so, one day, while trying to lock herself in the bathroom so as not to hurt anyone, she makes that anger explode in a storm of flames. Once her powers have manifested, people interested in them start looking for her.

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Charlie’s anger

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Firestarter: Ryan Kiera Armstrong in one sequence

Gift or curse? Powers or burden? The story of the horror and fantastic story, whether they are novels, comics or cinema, has always lived on the balance between these two aspects of “power”. Recently, even the protagonists of Freaks Out. in Firestarter, in Charlie’s family, we see the various sides of the coin well. Andy, the father, knows how to condition the minds of others to tell them what to do: he is aware of his power and uses it for his activity, the life coach, but also in moments when he needs to solve situations . Vicky, the mother, on the other hand, has decided not to use his powers, so she knows how to control them. Little Charlie can’t control them, not yet, at least. So the whole film lives on this inner conflict. Charlie is afraid of hurting others, she feels like a monster, she is afraid of herself. But, on the other hand, often her outbursts are an outlet of a repressed anger, and affect those who, irrationally, want to hit her because it hurts her or her loved ones. The best thing about the film is its focus on Charlie. She does it by scrutinizing her face, with close-ups and very close-ups, or by showing us for a few moments, with a quick montage, her subjective views, so that, looking at what she sees, and how she sees it, we try to identify with the sensations. her. The music of John Carpenter, a master of the genre, contributes to create the right atmosphere, even when it comes to soundtracks.

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Firestarter: a scene from the film

From the freak’s point of view

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Firestarter: Zac Efron, Ryan Kiera Armstrong in an action scene

This looking at history from the point of view of “monster“, of the freak, of the different, benefits the first part of the film, which, despite some ingenuity, has the merit of knowing how to create expectation, mystery, suspension. As the story unfolds, however, the limits of the film come to It is a film that has a rather glossy, aseptic packaging, which lacks that seed of madness, that sense of uncanny and sickness that is typical of Stephen King’s stories. It is an openly B series film, with actors – if we remove the protagonists – rather anonymous and not very expressive, and rather simple special effects. It is clear that this is not a high-budget film, and the result suffers. Everything appears rather conventional, contained as if we were in a TV series . Here you are, Firestarter he could be the pilot of a television series, as he seems to introduce a character who, later, could have been developed more fully.

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Like Carrie and Eleven

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Firestarter: Zac Efron, Ryan Kiera Armstrong in a scene from the film

Firestarter comes after we have often seen, on the big or small screen, girls and boys with superpowers who, depending on the direction the story has taken, are either gift or condemnation. To stay in the world of Stephen King, the first film that comes to mind is Carrie – The gaze of Satan, and if we travel to the present day the reference is the Eleven (or Eleven) of Stranger Things. But, in the gallery there is also the protagonist of Darkest Minds, Jean Gray from X-Men: Dark Phoenix and Aurora Giovinazzo’s Matilde in Freaks Out. These are series or films that have managed to give those characters a key of reading, an interpretation, an image, often iconic, sometimes less so. He fails in all of this Firestartera horror that does its duty, but nothing more.


In the Firestarter review we told you about a story that we like because it is seen from the point of view of the girl, of the “monster”. But the film lacks that seed of madness, that sense of uncanny that is typical of Stephen King.

Because we like it

  • The story, seen from the girl’s point of view, of the “monster” who is afraid of himself.
  • Throughout the first part the film manages to create an atmosphere of anticipation and mystery.
  • The music of John Carpenter, a master.

What’s wrong

  • The film lacks that sense of insanity and uncanny that is typical of Stephen King.
  • The actors seem to us from B movie …
  • … like special effects.

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