“FireStarter” (M) Half a star
KEITH Thomas’ second feature as director delivers many dramatic misfortunes. I won’t try to list them. Here’s a short list of stand-out moments.
Zac Efron plays Andy McGee, the dad of Charlie who, as a babe in arms, could set her environment alight just by disliking it. When her unusual talent emotionally strains him, he weeps, not tears like the rest of humanity but trickles of blood.
The family – caring dad Andy, mom Vicky (Sydney Lemmon) and Charlie (11-year-old Ryan Kiera Armstrong who has amassed 18 roles since 2018!) – is trying to cure Charlie of her destructive penchant without seeking professional help. Andy wonders if her hormones might be driving it. No, says Vicky, her periods haven’t started yet.
Irv (John Beasley), a trigger-happy member of the same breed as Andy and Charlie and the film’s most virulent nasty, comes to the McGee home at the same time as four sheriff’s deputies. Irv starts shooting them. Four of the community’s finest go down in ragged piles without firing back. Can this be the film’s message about America’s gun culture? And if so, which side is the film taking?
The closing sequence portends the possibility of a sequel. Irv walks along a beach carrying unconscious Charlie in his arms. Anybody who’s stayed to the film’s flaccid finish knows that dousing Charlie in water can deal permanently with her proclivity. I suspect Irv has his reasons for not!
This is the second time Stephen King’s horror story has been told on film. In 1984, Mark Lester directed Drew Barrymore playing Charlie. I didn’t see that version.
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