New Releases: Firestarter (2022) - Reviewed


It's rare that a film entirely lacks redeemable qualities, and Blumhouse's latest horror cash in almost takes the crown.  If not for a memorable score by John Carpenter and an outstanding opening credits sequence, Keith Thomas' atrocious reboot of Stephen King's novel/80's misfire Firestarter is an unimaginative, milquetoast sacrifice to the nostalgia gods who dominate the cinematic zeitgeist.  While most of these reanimations of 80’s pastiche usually contains a handful of merits, this film is truly an abomination of mediocrity and a harbinger of the many direct to streaming horrors that are yet to come.

There's something immediately off about the aesthetic.  Everything, down to the makeup looks artificial.  This is supported by a script that is dead on arrival, filled with surface level exposition and conflicts that ultimately serve no purpose other than to set up ultra (cheap) violent sequences while Carpenter's score is used as a Stranger Things accoutrement to drive the creepy ambiance home and yet, nothing is remotely scary or even tense.  This is most likely the byproduct of a cast in which Zac Efron gives the greatest performance in the film. 

One of the most bewildering aspects of the movie is its treatment of death.  No matter the character or the importance of the victim, no one in this universe seems to care when someone meets an unfortunate end.  While on the surface, the idea that this is a commentary on the commercial nature of government created psychic slaves is intriguing, the reality is that the script never stops to care about it so why should the audience?

Michael Greyeyes does admirably with what he's given to work with as shadowy assassin Rainbird, but he's never given room to breathe and serves no purpose other than to usher the viewer into a yawn inducing, creativity voided finale.  Budget limitations are usually charming flaws in lower tier projects, and yet here, they serve as a reminder of the lack of soul that was put into this project.  Every aspect, from the color grading, to the violence, and the atrocious special effects serve as a reminder that the hearts blood of the 80's is almost, hopefully, completely dry.

Now in theaters and streaming on Peacock, Firestarter is not only one of the worst films of the year, there is a strong chance it will reign supreme on the worst of the decade lists that will inevitably close out 2029.  Featuring a decent; but subpar when compared with Tangerine Dream's original, score, there is virtually nothing else of merit to find in this experience.  It's dour, humorless, and emotionless at every turn, almost with an insistence and the result is a truly forgettable mess. 

--Kyle Jonathan