Firestarter is a real slow burn (no pun intended). Unlike Carrie, Firestarter isn’t the best Stephen King book to movie adaptation about a young girl with telekinetic power. In fact it’s one of his most poorly received with a low 35% on Rotten Tomatoes. Firestarter feels more like a starring vehicle for the adorable Drew Barrymore in her first role after E.T. She plays the titular firestarter Charlie McGee.
Firestarter just sort of starts with Charlie and her father already on the run from an evil government agency known as “The Shop.” Most important details are told in cheesy flashbacks where we learn Charlie’s parents were college students who volunteered for a LOT-6 experiment that gave them forms of telepathy. Charlie inherited pyrokinesis that allows her to start fires with her mind. The actual firestarting is well done, but the rest of the movie is boring. David Keith and Heather Locklear are hard to take seriously as Charlie’s parents.
Art Carney and Louise Fletcher are more believable as friendly farmers who help Charlie and her father. Martin Sheen is a respectable villainous Captain Hollister, but George C. Scott as bounty hunter John Rainbird feels more like a creepy old man with an eye patch trying to befriend a little girl. The only thing that saves the third act are testing sequences followed by Charlie burning everything to the ground. It’s the only time Barrymore feels intimidating. Firestarter doesn’t burn as brightly as it should have.