The last time I saw Firestarter was somewhere in the early 90’s and all I could remember of it was a scene in a barn. I wasn’t sure if my memory was failing me as I also thought I might be referring to Species II but no, Firestarter does have a scene in a stable. Wasn’t there anything else memorable then I thought to myself and having just watched the movie again after at least 15 years I must conclude: No, not really. Maybe the ending but other than that it’s all quite dull and boring actually. But before I completely bring down the movie, let’s see what it is about.
The title refers to little Drew Barrymore, here hot of E.T.-fame and looking drugged up in all her scenes, who can start fires with her mind and can see into the near future. Instead of using her prediction abilities at the horse races her father and mother, as we learn through flashbacks, are actually focusing on her fire powers. Mom and dad are also quite the couple as they both have taken part in an experiment with a chemical and have got their own powers since then. Mom’s a mind-reader, while dad’s able to control other people with his mind. That ability is illustrated in a scene where he gives a cab driver played by Huggy Bear from Starsky & Hutch, a $1 bill and convinces him it’s actually a $500 bill. Well with a power like that you don’t need to take your fortune-telling daughter to the tracks, you can convince the cashiers you’ve got a winning ticket.
It turns out that some government agency called The Shop is on the heels of father and daughter because they want to examine the daughter. Where’s mom you say? Well she’s been killed by agents of this agency who after that even went to the trouble of stuffing her in a closet which made no sense to me especially since there was a trail of blood leading to her body. So these agents are on pursuit of our protagonists as we see them trying to get some money. With all his power Drews Dad Andy decides to use his brain power on a payphone so it gives him change. If the man had any common sense he would go to a slot-machine and use his brain power. What follows is a mixture of chases and flashbacks in which the flashbacks are actually more “exciting” than the chase-sequences. Well around the 30 minute mark we finally get an action sequence in which Drew sets people and cars on fire so that they can escape and reach a cabin that belongs to her parents. Which is actually the dumbest thing somebody could do:
“Hey, we’ve got government agents on our trail, where should we hide? Hey, I own a cabin in the woods that is registered to my name, maybe that’s a good idea. They’ll never find us there because that is the last place they’ll look for us”
So after five minutes of running time in the woods some agent finally comes to the conclusion of shooting Drew with a tranquilizer dart. It takes dozens burn victims for someone to come up with that idea and the person to come up with it is a freaky agent name John Rainbird who is played by George C. Scott and is supposed to be a Native American I guess looking at the ponytail and the way he dresses. Which also reminds me of Steven Seagal actually, but without the Aikido and with the acting skills. This John Rainbird is quite disturbed as he multiple times describes what he’s going to do with Drew after The Shop is done with her and even if it doesn’t make much sense most of the time it’s quite disturbing.
50 minutes in she’s finally captured by the agents and then the movie get really stretched as nothing interesting actually happens once they’re taken to the base op operations of The Shop which consist of lots of different mansions and reminded me of one of those campuses with different fraternities in the average high school movie. But this last hour of the film the movie mostly consists of people trying to get Drew to show how she sets things on fire, George C Scott posing as a cleaner who tries to befriend her, Dad getting drugged over and over. It’s one big yawn-fest as even the scenes where Drew shows the agents and scientists what she can do fail to impress me. Now I must add there is some kind of satisfying pay-off as the last big scene of the movie is an action scene in which Drew really goes no holds barred shooting Fireballs and such. The only thing missing from those scenes was a Ha-Do-Ken here and there. But two big action sequences in a movie that runs a friggin 114 minutes? Come on!
The reason I remembered so little about Firestarter is because there is nothing much to remember. It comes, goes and if you haven’t fallen asleep you still won’t leave an impression. With all the horror remakes today this is one that actually could get better when redeveloping it. Just make it 90 minute movie with more than two fire-themed action sequences and have the Firestarter herself also turn to fire like The Human Torch.