The campy Zac Efron sci-fi horror film climbing the Netflix charts
(Credit: Netflix)

Film News

The campy Zac Efron sci-fi horror film climbing the Netflix charts

High School Musical heartthrob turned serious actor Zac Efron is riding high on the wave of praise for his performance in Sean Durkin’s gritty sports thriller Iron Claw. But on Netflix, it’s a different story altogether. 

The current talk of the streaming town is Efron’s 2022 sci-fi horror flick that has clawed its way up the charts, proving once again that even the most peculiar movies can find their audience on the right platform. 

Directed by Keith Thomas and penned by Scott Teems, Firestarter is a remake of the 1984 film of the same name, based on Stephen King’s novel. Starring alongside Efron are Ryan Kiera Armstrong, Sydney Lemmon, and Kurtwood Smith, among others. This flick promised a fiery mix of science fiction and horror but fizzled out with just a few sparks.

The plot unfolds with young Charlie McGee, played by Armstrong, discovering her pyrokinetic abilities. Her parents, Andy (Efron) and Vicky (Lemmon), who gained telepathy and telekinesis, respectively, through an experimental drug, are faced with the challenge of protecting Charlie from those who see her powers as a threat. Enter Captain Jane Hollister (Gloria Reuben) and the menacing John Rainbird (Michael Greyeyes), both with their own agendas regarding Charlie’s abilities.

Critics and audiences alike, however, didn’t quite feel the heat. Despite its star-studded cast and promising premise, Firestarter failed to ignite much enthusiasm. With a meagre 11 per cent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and scathing reviews calling it “thoroughly bland” and “pointless,” the film struggled to escape the shadow of its predecessor. However, in an early interaction with EW, the producer of the film, Jason Blum, said King had given the film his blessings. Blum said, “He was very generous with his response and his comments.”

But amidst the lukewarm reception, some found solace in its campy charm. Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times called it a “combustible supernatural thriller” that embraces its campiness and to be considered a “well enough 21st century drive-in escapist fare.”

While Zac Efron may not be basking in critical acclaim for this one, you can still stream Firestarter on Netflix, but watch the trailer here first: