Firestarter isn’t one of Stephen King’s most renowned novels, but I’ve always enjoyed it. The story centers on secret government experiments with an LSD-like drug that gives you psychic abilities. A couple participates in the tests and end up with very weak telekinetic powers, but after they have a child they quickly realize that she’s a powerful pyrokinetic. She’s the titular firestarter, and the rest of the story follows her trying to stay a step ahead of the government as they seek to imprison her to study her immense power.
The book was adapted for the screen in 1984, with a young Drew Barrymore in the lead role. Even taking into account the extremely variable quality of Stephen King movies, this is very much at the bottom of the pack, receiving terrible reviews and sinking into obscurity. In a 2012 retrospective, King described Firestarter as one of the worst screen translations of his work, deeming it “flavorless; it’s like cafeteria mashed potatoes.”
But now Firestarter is sparking to life once again, courtesy of hitmakers Blumhouse Productions (another remake by Universal seems to have fizzled out). The new take will be helmed by The Vigil director Keith Thomas and written by Scott Teems.
Here’s how Thomas recently described it:
“It’s a new adaptation of the book. When Jason [Blum] pitched it to me it was exciting, as that’s one of my favourite Stephen King novels, and whilst I really like the 1980’s film, I felt we could do something new. The screenplay is by Scott Teems who wrote the upcoming Halloween Kills, it’s an amazing script. It has everything you would want, people’s heads catching fire and their faces melting off, and a dad and daughter on the run trying to survive being chased in this heightened tense experience. We are hoping to film it this year, and it will be a lot of fun.”
Perhaps seeking to avoid being disappointed by another bad reworking of one of his novels, King is taking a more active role in this project, and Thomas went on to reveal the horror master’s involvement, saying:
“He watched The Vigil, approved me as director and he read the script from the early stages, and he’s very happy with it. He’s excited for it, he’s there the whole way.”
If Firestarter really does shoot this year, I’d expect to see it land in theaters in late 2021. I’m very much down for watching people’s faces getting melted off on screen, so I’ll certainly be paying close attention to this production.