Firestarter (1984)

Firestarter (1984)

“If I do something bad, will you still love me?”

Accompanied by her father (David Keith), a young girl with pyrokinetic powers (Drew Barrymore) stays on the run from government officials hoping to capture her and weaponize her abilities.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Art Carney Films
  • Father and Child
  • Fugitives
  • George C. Scott Films
  • Horror Films
  • Louise Fletcher Films
  • Martin Sheen Films
  • Political Corruption
  • Stephen King Adaptations
  • Supernatural Powers

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary argues that this “mess of a film, adapted from Stephen King’s novel” about a “sympathetic little girl [named Charlie] (Drew Barrymore) with the power to start fires through mental impulses and her nice-guy father (David Keith) with mind-control powers” “picks up slightly once the two are captured and separated,” given that we then “no longer have to endure Keith repeatedly getting down on one knee and sensitively comforting the teary child, who feels guilt about the destruction and deaths her fires have caused.”

He notes that the “picture’s main selling point is the special effects, most of which involve people and objects bursting into flames”, in addition to a climax “filled with flying fireballs.”

He writes that “George C. Scott, wearing a pony tail, has a field day as a maniacal government assassin who literally wants to bash Charlie’s brains in”:

… but “all the other actors are poorly used.” I’m essentially in agreement with Peary’s assessment of this film, which was purportedly a major disappointment to King. The special effects are super-cool, and Barrymore inhabits her role with conviction — but there’s far too much we never learn about her family’s situation (what, exactly, happened after Keith and Locklear underwent experimental treatment, apparently married, and had a child?), and various supporting characters — including Art Carney and Louise Fletcher as kindly farmers who offer shelter to the runaway duo:

… and Sheen as a corrupt politician:

— are underdeveloped.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Drew Barrymore as Charlie
  • George C. Scott as John Rainbird
  • Impressive special effects

Must See?
No; you can skip this one unless you’re a Stephen King fan and curious to check it out.


2 thoughts on “Firestarter (1984)

  1. ⭐️⭐️⭐️ out of ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    Solid, well crafted adaptation of Stephen King’s 1980 sci-fi horror novel works well for the most part due to decent performances, an excellent score (Tangerine Dream) and fabulous SPFX. However, it could have done with trimming and pacing up. A modest and enjoyable film with a great firey climax. Not must see for FFs.

  2. First viewing. Skip it.

    Weirdly uninvolving, often flat-out-boring film that is also occasionally unintentionally funny. For something promising thrills, this thing is deadly dull.

    This is among the King books I haven’t read. The author’s main complaint about the adaptation was “oversimplification”. Still, one reader at called the novel “520 pages of nothing”.

    It’s basically a one-trick pony rip-off of ‘Carrie’ – which, in its own film version (something of an improvement on its source), had more of a plot and better character development.

    Director Mark L. Lester gives us an exciting first few minutes before the ball is completely dropped on the narrative. Halfway-through, Scott enters – giving the film a momentary lift with a hint of the kind of committed performance that dwarfs everything around him. The script soon lets him down.

    The final result leaves the viewer with two hours of nothing.

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