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Another Season, Another Stephen King Adaptation: “Firestarter”

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

In his guide, On Writing, Stephen King reveals his craft cycle. To summarize, King forces a literary masterpiece packed with sweat-inducing suspense and sensory details to implode onto pristine pages four times a year. King prefers to limit his book process to three months (his pen produces over 2000 words each day) to keep the current story from becoming as stale as a fizzled-out match in his mind. He’s committed to developing a fresh novel every spring, summer, fall and winter.

With King’s constantly erupting imagination, his habit of consistency creates an endless flow of glowing material for enlightened screenwriters and filmmakers to adapt. Right on time, the next inspired piece is ready to be released this spring. The latest addition to his list of over 50 film adaptations is an upcoming remake of Firestarter.

The source material, a 1980 science fiction novel interlaced with King’s signature horrific and thrilling style, features a battle between a girl who harnesses pyrokinesis and a control-seeking government agency. The original 1984 adaptation starred eight-year-old Drew Barrymore as the main character, Charlie and George C. Scott as John Rainbird, a member of the gang of antagonists. Although the 1984 version’s ratings on Rotten Tomatoes were only 37 percent, the audience for the 2022 version can expect at least some visual improvement due to the progression of CGI (computer-generated imagery).

The trailer, which Universal Pictures released three weeks ago, depicts the stresses of Charlie McGee and her parents when it comes to concealing and coping with the child’s emotionally-charged powers. Ryan Kiera Armstrong, who played smaller parts in It Chapter Two, Black Widow and The Art of Racing in the Rain now plays the fiery Charlie. Additionally, High School Musical and The Greatest Showman star, Zac Efron, has evolved from young adult roles to more mature ones by playing Charlie’s dad.

Within the three-minute preview, Charlie wails, “I hate living like this!” and “I’m not special! I’m a monster!” In response to anyone who dares to disagree, she verbally scolds them. The tension in the trailer is further depicted through Charlie’s iconic flailing hair, an intense school bathroom scene, honest talks with her father, a man holding a knife to her throat as she asks where her “mommy” is, a symbolic exploding crow and encounters with enemies in stiff silver suits. She also taunts others with the nursery rhyme, “Liar, liar pants on fire” and admits, “I don’t want to hurt anyone, but it feels kind of good.” This sentence contrasts her frustrations about her powers in a witty manner.

According to Entertainment Weekly, King himself approves of the final product. Since writer Scott Teems and director Keith Thomas created the horror movie The Vigil together, they felt prepared to take on a piece as prestigious as King’s. In an interview with his local newspaper in Maine, King expressed the highlights of the remake: “The girl playing Charlie (Ryan Kiera Armstrong) is terrific, and Zac Efron makes a better Andy, her father, than David Keith. It’s tighter and more focused than the 1984 version.” Besides Firestarter, there are a handful of other King horrors lurking in the production process, including Salem’s Lot, Christine and The Boogeyman.

Almost exactly 38 years later, Firestarter (2022) will rocket into theaters and the streaming service Peacock on Friday, May 13.

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Left-handed writer from South Florida on her way to becoming a fiction novelist. Her favorite works include adventure, magic, and unique twists.