I have been a Stephen King fan since Salem’s Lot. I looked forward to every new King book that came out. I read Firestarter in two days. The book had all of the elements for an exciting story: experiments done to college students by a secret government organization called The Shop; chase scenes; a loving family changed forever by the experiments; and a child, born with pyrokinetic powers as a result of the experiments. Stephen King had no problem using children in very disturbing ways in his novels.
While in college, Vicky and Andy take part in an experiment. They are given an hallucinogen which, for some participants, goes horribly wrong. The drug is called Lot 6. Vicky and Andy marry and have a child. However, they soon learn that they have been changed by the experiment. Vicky can move objects with her mind and Andy develops an ability to influence people, what he calls “push.” Their child, however, has been born with a most extraordinary and dangerous gift: pyrokinesis. As participants of the Lot 6 experiment that survived, they are under constant surveillance. When the authorities learn of Charlie’s gift, agents of The Shop are sent to bring her in. After Andy finds Vicky dead, he realizes the danger they are in and he and Charlie go on the run. They are caught and brought back to The Shop. Charlie is tricked into doing experiments with her “gift.” When she realizes she and her father have been betrayed, she fights back using the only weapon she has: her ability to make fire with her mind.
Unlike his books, I am usually disappointed with films made from Stephen King novels. I find the films adapted from books that are not considered horror fiction do better on film, for example, Stand By Me (based on the novella “The Body” included in Different Seasons) and Shawshank Redemption (based on the novella “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption,” also included in Different Seasons). Although the story in the film closely follows the story in the book, the endings are so different as to change the logic of the ending, especially if you read the book first. I don’t want to give it away. All I will say is that the governmental agency as described in the book and illustrated in the film would have many tentacles in many areas of life and industry. Although the change made in the film seems minor, to me, it was significant and thoughtless.
I always felt that Drew Barrymore is a consummate professional, even as a child. In this film, she was nine years old. She was a great choice for the character of Charlie. You also get to see George C. Scott in this film, one of my favorite actors since The Day of the Dolphin, as well as Art Carney. It is always a surprise to me when I see Art Carney in films; I forget he had successful career outside the Honeymooners. Freddie Jones (Elephant Man), Moses Gunn (Cornbread, Earl and Me), (a very young) Martin Sheen (who was in another adpatation of a Stephen King novel called The Dead Zone) and (even younger) Heather Locklear also make up the rest of the cast.
What do you think??