I’m not special, I’m a monster!
Its fine for our annual Stephen King film, and this year’s pick is Firestarter. I have not read the book or seen/reviewed the original but I was having a hard time trying to decide on a Stephen King film this year and this one is always coming up on my fire stick; so I figured why not give it a watch?
It can be any worse than some of his other films.
The biggest thing I know about this film was how every millennial was posting about how Zac Efron is now a dad in a film; our generation is officially old.
We start off with a baby breastfeeding, an odd choice and come out to Andy McGee (Zac Efron) and his wife Vicky McGee (Sydney Lemmon) looking at their little girl. Their baby is upset as she still wanted to be held, not put in the crib, and then a fire starts in the room, becoming a giant inferno.
Andy saves the baby from the burning crib but then she bursts into flames like baby Jack Jack in The Incredibles. But luckily it’s just a memory in a dream.
Present day his daughter, Charlie McGee is 10 years old. Andy walks down the hall and finds his daughter playing with a lighter. She asks him about quitting smoking and ***ding ding*** a smoker, there’s one in every SK film.
Charlie says she feels weird, and at first Andy thinks she’s talking about her period but she says no “the other thing”, something is changing inside her. Zac tells her to remember her “tool”, some word association to keep calm. I’m not sure that’s the best idea, this whole scene is giving me Frozen flashbacks and we all know how that ended. Letting go and creating a giant snow storm and sentient ice beings.
We then switch to seeing old videos of Andy and Vicky from college, some kind of “FDA” clinical trial run by the government. They are asked standard medical questions (do you take drugs, their blood type, etc). However, the thing that gets me suspicious is that both have no parents or family (all dead) and this whole thing sounds like some weird testing, something that could go very bad for them to choose people with no family. They ask about psychic experiences and ***ding ding*** Psychics. We are up to 2 SK Tropes.
So from the rapid fire images it sounds like most had a bad reaction.
With the only two surviving being Andy and Vicky. Andy is a hypnotist/psychologist? He’s trying to help a person, but creates some weird high pitch sounds makes my ears hurt. I’m assuming he’s psychic (or has the shining as they say in The Shining). However, something is not quite right with his ability as blood starts coming out of his eyes. Ugh, I hate that. I hate any eye trauma.
Back with Charlie she accidentally destroys the frog they are supposed to dissect. The teacher recommends that she use google to answer her the frog anatomy questions but her family doesn’t believe in computers. She almost has a freak out at schooo but calms down. I forgot to count another SK trope ***little kid has crazy powers***. (Up to 3!)
The couple are anxious about what to do next. Andy wants to protect her while Vicky wants to train her. I have to say I’m with mom on this, she has amazing power and she’s in middle school. Doesn’t dad remember how tough middle school can be? Kids can be extremely cruel and they most definitely need to train her so she didn’t blow up her school or something. In fact they should home school her.
Charlie has an incident at school where she causes a fire in the bathroom and almost burns the teacher. They call in the fire department but luckily they only think Charlie did it with normal means and do suspect it could be something more. If I was mom I definitely would have been, I told you so.
Mom and dad are unsure what to do next, but they do think they need to move. Vicky wants Andy to “push” Charlie mentally (I’m assuming they mean his psychic blast/shining ability), but Andy doesn’t want to mess with her head. So Andy can “push” people while Vicky says she has a different power, but they haven’t told us what it is. Charlie is still upset from school and they decide it is time to tell her the truth. They finally let her know there are people after them that because of their abilities. Charlie starts freaking out, they try to calm her, everyone starts yelling, and charlie strikes out as accidentally setting her mother on fire.
Meanwhile while that is all going on, the government has been watching and pick up on what happened at the school, zoning into the area the McGees lived.
We then switch to see a creepy shirtless guy with a weird tatto of an upside down cross ***ding ding*** some strange religious connotation SK trope 4, multiple single boots and creepy drawings (***ding ding SK trope 5). His name is Rainbird and he’s no longer retired but back on the playing field.
Back at the McGees Charlie is drawing weird pictures, ***ding ding*** child draws a creepy picture SK trope 6. Andy tries to take care of Vicky but the burns are really bad. Vicky again insists that Andy “push” Charlie but he doesn’t wash to risk hurting their daughter, but Vicky warns him that their girl might kill them. I am definitely on Vicky’s side as a “push” might not be the worst idea. Finally Vicky is tired of everything and asks Andy to leave with Andy and Charlie for ice cream and give her some alone time.
After they leave, Vicky starts acting weird. I don’t hear anything, is that is what is off is it too quiet? Or does she hear something?
There’s a knock at the door, I hope she doesn’t answer as Andy left to get them ice cream and she’s wounded. When she goes to see who it is, it’s a police officer who is responding to their earlier hung up 911 call. Vicky explains away they burns but after the police officer leave sit turns out that Rainbird snuck into the house. He is here to take them in. Vicky tries to defend herself by using her psychic abilities to throw things at Rainbird, but he also has powers as he was a test subject as well.
Rainbird tells her that if she gives up, the girl will live, but she refuses. We cut away after she is hit by a flying object and I assume she’s dead.
On their way back from ice cream, Charlie and Andy have a heart to heart with Charlie sharing it was supposed to be him. Yes, lighting mom on fire was only an accident as she hit her instead of who she was aiming for.
She just admitted to her dad she meant to set him on fire.
If I was Andy I would definitely start “pushing” her. I would 100% be sleeping won’t one eye open as the next time she gets angry she might try and kill him.
Of course Andy does no such thing, and Charlie mentions again she feels weird. Her dad thinks it is just an upset tummy, but Charlie insists it is something more.
Once inside the house Rainbird has captured Charlie and is hiding behind a lamp so that Andy’s powers don’t work on him (he has to look them right in the eye. Charlie gets so angry she sets everything on fire: Vicky’s dead, Rainbird injured and shocked, and Andy and Charlie take off for somewhere safe.
In the next scene we have the lady who brought Rainbird back, as she goes to speak to a doctor played by the Red Foreman actor. He’s just as angry as usual and I can tell by his voice he was the doctor running the tests on Andy, Vicky, and the others. The woman reveals that they found them.
Cut back to Andy and Charlie on the side of the road. Charlie likes her powers and is trying to test them and work them out. She moved a piece of metal with her mind. Charlie find a cute orange cat and I’m skipping because I know exactly what will happen as Stephen King apparently hates cats. ***ding ding*** animal murdered SK trope 7.
We go back again to the doctor and I really hate these fast transitions. The scenes are so short it’s like why even do that, they really should just have a full scene then switch to another. I’ve noticed this happening a lot in films recently and I don’t like this trend as it is super annoying.
The doctor (Red Foreman) warns the woman who came to see him, the head of DSI, that they should just kill Charlie. He knows they want to use her as a tool but she has a really strong power and is only going to get stronger. Of course she doesn’t listen to him.
Then we switch back to Charlie and Andy who have buried the cat and are praying for it and her mom. Andy tries to make her feel better and tells Charlie that her mother wanted her to learn how to use her powers so that she might use them for good. Andy warns her that if she does too much it can hurt her, but Charlie says it doesn’t hurt it feels good.
Uh oh, Charlie is a bad seed. She’s going to kill everyone I just know it.
The two hitchhike and flag a car down. Charlie worries about strangers but girl you can start fires and move things with your mind, I’m sure you two will be okay. The guy who picks them up takes them to his house to eat and Charlie wants to see the chickens, bad idea because if they peck her she will probably set the whole house on fire. While there Charlie hears something strange and finds a woman on a respirator. It turns out the woman is the man’s wife, Essi, and she was hit by a car when she was driving and now is slightly comatose.
That night Andy tells Charlie to be careful with her powers and tells her about before when the government came after Charlie. Andy had to go get her, sensing her with his abilities and knowing exactly where she was at. He used his powers to take the agents out in order to save his daughter and because he was so angry over what they did. He feels bad about it now. warns her about being caught up in the moment. He shared with her that when you hurt one person it hurts everyone and has her promise not to use her gifts to hurt people.
Andy wakes up and hears the police report on TV warning about him and tries to reason with the man, but he doesn’t listen. Charlie comes in and shares that she knows what really happened with Essi and Andy says that why they are after them, because of their powers. Charlie shares that Essi forgives him for driving drunk and injuring her (***ding ding*** SK Trope 7 an alcoholic). The police are here and Andy doesn’t know what to do. The guy wants to help them, but Andy doubts things will go well.
The guy tries to talk the police into leaving but someone’s here and shoots everyone…Rainbird. Charlie senses him and becomes so angry she shoots a fireball at Rainbird, but it doesn’t hit him.
Andy sends Charlie off while he tries to take care of Rainbird, but his powers don’t work on Rainbird completely and he is still having the bloody eye issue.
The government clean up crew come in with special lenses so the psychic powers don’t work on them. They take Andy and Rainbird.
Now Charlie is alone and has to fend for herself. DSI is not happy with Rainbird for the mess of dead cops. They blindfolded him and lock him up.
Charlie is roughing it out in The woods when she feels her father’s presence and sees the facility. She says in the woods for a bit and starts practicing her fire ability, as she wants to hone it.
As Charlie is heading to the facility she is bullied by some boys on bikes. They call her names and she“pushes” them into giving her a bike, their luck, and clothes. Then off she goes.
She finds the facility and just walks into it. I’m surprised security doesn’t find her right away, but then again they do want to capture her. Charlie uses her abilities to capture an agent on their way and home and interrogate them. When the agent tries to pull a gun on her she sets them on fire.
Security sees her but they want Charlie to go downstairs to the “control” floor. I hope she burns the building down.
Charlie finds her dad but he’s locked up. Captain Hollister, head of the DSI wants to have Charlie willingly come with them, and tries to convince her by bringing her mom into it, “it’s what your mom would have wanted”. But she doesn’t understand Charlie, and that only makes her angry. Captain Hollister stands by Andy to ensure Charlie doesn’t kill her, but . Charlie sets herself on fire but Captain Andy does his last push and pushes her to burn the whole facility down. She begins to burning up both Hollister and Andy.
Charlie starts setting everyone on fire or using her abilities in other ways to take them out. Good for you Charlie.
In come the soldiers in flame retardant but that doesn’t stop her. When it almost looks like she is about to lose, Rainbird saves her. Then it’s her and Rainbird, Psy versus Psy. Rainbird gives himself up to her and she starts to burn him, but she’s sees her reflection and stops, leaving him be.
What that’s it? The girl who goes from 1 to 100 on the emotional Richter scale is just letting the man who killed her mother go?
Charlie then continues to explode the facility destroying it to the ground. But now what? She’s alone and has nowhere to turn to.
Rainbird comes over to her and carries her away. I guess they will be a family now? And that how it ends? Weird choice and strange way to end the film.
I have to say that this is probably one of the better Stephen King films as it had a concise plot and interesting characters. The end was an odd choice, but otherwise I enjoyed it.
For more Stephen King films, go to Do You Like This Hotel?…I Guess So. Good. I Want You to Like It Here. I Wish We Could Stay Here Forever… and Ever…: The Shining (1980)
For more psychics, go to The Crimes of Juliet O’Hara and a Blast from the Past: Psych the Movie (2017)