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SYFY WIRE Firestarter

Firestarter director teases ‘raw, very emotional, very tense’ reboot of Stephen King classic

By Alyse Wax
Drew Barrymore in Firestarter

The Blumhouse/Universal Firestarter remake has been in development since at least 2018, but seems like it is finally ready to head into production. Based on Stephen King's 1980 novel, and the 1984 film, Firestarter follows Charlie and her father Andy as they run from "The Shop," the government agency that tested hallucinogenic drugs on Andy and his wife. The tests gave the pair low-grade psychokinetic powers, but it was nothing compared to the powers that Charlie gained. 

We recently caught up with director Keith Thomas on the eve of the release of his feature debut, The Vigil. He has been tapped to direct the new Firestarter. “I was always a big fan of King’s book,” he told SYFY WIRE, “and I liked the 80s movie. When I was presented with the idea, I was really excited to give it this interesting, new approach that I hadn’t seen in the original film, that I thought was there in the book.”

Thomas likes that it’s a “supernatural film that’s grounded,” unlike a lot of King’s other work, like IT and The Shining. “Firestarter is dealing with psychic powers and how a little kid with this crazy ability can really become something complicated for her parents.” Scott Teems, who wrote the upcoming Halloween sequel, Halloween Kills, wrote the script, which Thomas calls “amazing.”  

“When I came on board, we dug into the characters more, spending more time with Charlie and Andy and [Andy's wife] Vicki," Thomas says, before he begins to ruminate on some of the more grounded aspects of the story. "How do you parent when you’ve got a little girl who can melt someone’s face off when she gets angry? How do you parent on the run, when there is a company called The Shop after you, that wants to vivisect you, experiment on you?"

But Thomas doesn't want to stray too far from the aspects that made the original film a favorite. "How do you explore all those angles more in-depth, at the same time keeping it the same road trip movie of a father and daughter on the run?” He promises to deliver something that is "a little more emotionally rich" than the 1984 film.

The new film has booked Zac Efron as Andy, and Michael Greyeyes as Rainbird, one of The Shop agents that captures the pair and convinces Charlie he is an ally. Charlie, originally played by a young Drew Barrymore in her breakout role, has not yet been cast.

“Our approach is really to dig deep into the text and pull more of that out,” Thomas continues. “The hope is that it will be a really emotional, visceral thrill ride.” He promises that if you are looking for the horror promised by a film called Firestarter, you will get that. “At the same time, you’re going to get this rich exploration of family dynamics in a threatened world. It’s very raw, very emotional, very tense.”

Thomas hopes that they will begin shooting sometime this year.