Firestarter (1984)

Starring: Drew Barrymore, Keith David, George C Scott, Martin Sheen, Art Carney, Louise Fletcher, and Heather Locklear.

Directed By: Mark L. Lester

Where I Watched It: ?

English Audio Description Available: Yes

Description Provided By: IFTC

The Plot: Two cash strapped individuals (Keith David/Heather locklear) sign up to be part of a group doing a drug trial for the government, Orr as this film likes to call them “The Shop”. This experiment leads to them having special abilities, which they then come to the conclusion that they should hook up and become a couple. Flash forward, and they’ve produced a child (Barrymore), who has also inherited her parents powers (or a version of them). But The Shop is hunting them down, and they must go on the run. But Charlie’s powers have only begun to be tapped into, and if they keep threatening her and her family, they might just find out they’ve started a fire they can’t put out.

What Works: The Cast, I’ve lived my whole life knowing that Firestarter was an older title that featured an adorable child version of Drew Barrymore, and was based on a Stephen King novel. no one ever told me, nor did they discuss this cast. holy casting call, Batman! Look at all those Oscar nominees (and winners). Insane. This wasn’t just a throwaway 80’s horror movie. This was something that attracted these people to this film. Whether it was the money, the book, or something else, this cast is incredible. And they elevate the film, because they are who they are.

As far as Stephen King films go, this felt pretty tame, and somewhat like I’d seen this before, or elements of in other films. Of course, this is from 1984, so maybe this was the first in many of those regards, but this can’t be the first film where the government is testing on humans and things go awry.

Drew Barrymore is fine here. I’m not sure how old her character is in the film, but she plays her like a five or six year old. Very young, so her dialogue reflects that of a small child. I don’t know what the new remake will do with this role, but we shall see.

What Didn’t Work: Like I said, it somehow feels a little too familiar. The films biggest sin comes in a brief sequence where two awful actors are given dialogue that they basically repeat. The dialogue is poorly written, and poorly acted. It’s such a random and unnecessary scene, I wonder why there was a focus on it.

I can’t answer to how cool the fireballs look for visual effects available of the period. Who knows. Maybe the fireballs look amazing. That’s up for my sighted readers to judge for themselves. I will say, having recently sat through a horror franchise that laid out its own rules, and then proceeded to never follow the rules, that Firestarter seems to really lay it out and follow the rules laid forth for the progression of the story.

The Blind Perspective: I’m 90% sure that IFTC is not a real entity, and is just a dude in his house homegrowing audio description. While I believe that everyone of us has a right to accessibility, and that Hollywood needs to be held at a higher standard when it comes to audio description, there is something about homegrowing your own description that is also disconcerting.

There are teams of people who do this for a living when actually hired to do it, and a lot of time and energy is put into the description, and that didn’t happen here. If IFTC is actually a group of some kind, then maybe they could start by not having the narrator clearing his throat during the audio description. IT’s so obviously unprofessional, and the thousands of hours I’ve watched of audio description so far, has never presented me with such a glaring situation like that. Add to that all the audio books I’ve listened to, and not one throat clear. No coughing.

So this guy, who was Ok with leaving that in… do you think he’s going to produce professional level audio description, or is he going to be more like having a friend sitting next to you on the couch? The mixing was terrible, things clearly happen that are not described, because there are sound effects that go unexplained. Of course, the studio behind this, I’m sure is not rushing to produce audio description for this title, however even in the world of homegrowing audio description, this still feels like a weird place to start. There are so many actual film classics out there, that it seems like such an odd choice to make sure that this title is accessible.

Did it help me out for purposes of reviewing the original before the remake? Sure. But if they had never remade the film, I never would have sought this movie out. That’s why it took until this moment for me to watch it. I never would have otherwise.

Final Thoughts: We need legislators who care enough to make audio description a right for the blind community. no more of this thing where it’s available on one service but not another. no more worrying about a title when we click on it. Just make the title accessible. If it has closed captioning, it should have audio description.

The film was OK. I’m sure the sequel will find a way to be more violent and gorier, because that’s what we do nowadays.

Final Grade: B

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