Undoubtedly it is the era of superheroes that we are experiencing, and even a producer like Jason Blum understood it. The unleashed founder of Blumhouse, known above all for his prolific forge of low-budget horror, returns to the cinema with Firestarter in Indian cinemas with Universal starting from 12 May among the films in the cinema of May 2022.
A project not easy, because surrounded by many factors that increased the risks of this production: first of all it is the transposition of L'incendiaria, one of Stephen King's first novels, already the subject of a film adaptation in a title from the 1980s that is not exactly memorable. And secondly, an element not to be underestimated is a film that Blum has chosen to entrust to Keith Thomas, who is called upon to transform the original Kingian tale into a parable well distributed between paranormal and "cine comic". The result? An effective and all in all successful mix, which left us pleasantly impressed upon completion.
A little X-Men, a little Stranger Things
Superhumans and paranormal, unscrupulous scientists and terrible experiments, all topped off with a few splashes of horror and a cleverly crafted art direction. It is the winning formula of Firestarter, which optimizes its clearly low-budget b-movie frame to build around it a convincing and expertly directed story. The film tells the story of an unfortunate family, constantly on the run from a cruel government agency that in the past conducted shady experiments on McGee, Andy, and Vicky, and on their little daughter Charlie.
The little girl, unaware of the turbulent past that her parents want to leave behind, seems to have inherited some of their supernatural abilities such as telepathy, as well as having developed power of her own: she is able to trigger devastating fires and lethal explosions. Unfortunately, her little girl is unable to control her deadly pyrokinesis, and for this, she must be very careful not to get carried away by emotions. Inevitably, however, Charlie's instability gives rise to some incidents that endanger the McGee family, forced to flee to escape their evil captors.
Stephen King meets superheroes
The main flaw of this Firestarter is its partly didactic script: net, in fact, of a convincing beginning and a final with a great scenic impact, Keith Thomas's film suffers from a central segment that is a bit too scholastic, both in the development and in the construction of some fairly stereotyped characters.
However, it is interesting the way in which Firestarter contaminates the exquisitely "Kingian" atmospheres quite well with an abundantly superheroic narrative and stylistic approach. It is no secret, on the other hand, that the King himself was already talking about mutants and superhumans, clearly inspired by the well-known American comic literature, but the 2022 film still puts us in his own way in riding the gigantic "pop" frame of which the cinema of contemporary consumption now seems fully encircled. The merit, moreover, of a cast in all respects surprising: from the very young and talented Armstrong to the excellent Lemmon, up to a revealing Zac Efron in a role quite far from his "comfort zone".
This does not mean, however, that the new Firestarter does not represent a unique and exquisitely original case, even in the Blumhouse stable: while choosing to make King's writing adhere to the canons of a more commercial cinema, the work nevertheless remains closer to the boundaries of an interesting b-movie, freer to experiment from a directorial point of view and less artificial, much more artisanal in terms of aesthetics.
From Thomas's camera movements to the wise and moderate use of special effects that are not particularly spectacular, but functional to the tones of the production, up to a soundtrack that we could define as sumptuous and perfectly functional to the project. On the other hand, thanks to those who sign the music sector: a certain gentleman named John Carpenter, who with his splendid and inspired Seventies vibes contributed to making Firestarter an interesting tribute to a proudly vintage cinema.
Firestarter is a successful mix of horror, paranormal and fine comics. A clever adaptation of one of the most fascinating and peculiar stories by Stephen King, which Blumhouse and Keith Thomas conflate with intelligence and skill. Not a perfect, didactic, and scholastic work especially in the development of the plot, but still inspired on the artistic and musical front. Thanks to the b-movie frame, free and experimental just right, and the superhero atmospheres alternating with horror make Firestarter a pleasant surprise in the offer of this film season.