Zac Efron stars as Andy McGee, a father who happens to have the gift of telepathy, in the latest Stephen King film adaptation, Firestarter. But he's not the only one with a gift in his family--his wife Vicky (Sydney Lemmon) has powers as well and in fact, the two met while both were being experimented upon in a secret government facility. Years later, they discover that their young daughter Charlie (Ryan Kiera Armstrong) has the most dangerous gift of all--being able to set things (or people) on fire with her mind. Unfortunately, the McGees are still on the agency's radar, and they are very keen to try to take control of Charlie's powers.
There's really no way to mince words here, Firestarter is pretty terrible. It constantly is toeing the line between "so bad it's good" absurdity and just plain mind-numbingly bad. Admittedly, I have not seen the previous adaptation of this film, or read the book, so I can't speak to how it compares to those, but as a standalone feature, it cannot hold its own. The direction is poor, unable to settle on a tone, and lacks any tension. Efron phones in his performance which leaves most of the emotional heavy lifting to its young star Ryan Kiera Armstrong. It's hard to say whether she wasn't up for the task or if the writing simply failed her (or maybe a bit of both). Either way, she can't carry this film and so it sputters along till the very end when it goes out with a whimper.
Stephen King adaptations are a dime a dozen these days, so I understand why this film got made, but what I can't for the life of me fathom is why John Carpenter agreed to compose the score. The movie is completely undeserving of his talents, yet somehow he turns in one of the best horror scores in years. I cannot come up with another example when the gap between the quality of a film and its score has been so enormous. There is no reason to give Firestarter any of your time, but maybe check out the soundtrack sometime without having to watch the movie.
Firestarter is a complete and total dud. Like heartburn, it will be gone the next morning and you won't remember it.