Firestarter: The Remade Stephen King Universe

3.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A remake of Stephen King’s Firestarter. The plot follows Charlie, played by Ryan Keira Armstrong, a young girl hunted down for her supernatural powers.

A lot of reviewers out there are giving this film very low scores and personally I can’t see why. I don’t know if they were very attached to either King’s original novel or the previous film, but I haven’t read or seen those so I can only judge this film based on its own merits and not compare it to anything else.

I thought for the most part this film was good, the tension was well done and I got vibes of Doctor Sleep in this regard. I thought John Rainbird, played by Michael Greyeyes, was fantastic until the final 10 minutes, he gave off a strong amount of supernatural intrigue as such you constantly wanted to know more about his character but the film didn’t reveal anything which I thought was a smart move. Moreover, Zac Effron also did a great job here further proving his serious acting chops, I thought during the psychic battle sequences he was incredibly.

Another highpoint for me was the score composed by John Carpenter, his son Cody Carpenter and David Davies. It felt like the perfect 80’s call back mixed with just the right amount of excitement and intensity.

However, it wasn’t all roses. I thought the CGI fire effects were poor, to make matters worse whenever Charlie used her powers the camera would cut to a close up of her face with the fires happening off screen which felt cheap and obvious. In addition, there were several moments in this film were it became unintentionally hilarious and made me laugh out loud in the cinema, I don’t think that is what the filmmakers were going for. Finally the ending of Charlie forgiving Rainbird and then going with him despite all the trauma he has inflicted upon her makes no sense and just seems forced in so that the film can have a happy ending.

Overall, above average and certainly with redeemable elements despite not being a great film.

Pros.

The score

Effron

The mystery of Rainbird

The tension

Cons.

The ending

The cheap CGI

It is unintentionally hilarious

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1408: Did Someone Call The Hotel Inspector?

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A haunted house investigator, played by John Cusack, finally meets his match.

I have been a fan of Stephen King for many years and watched many of the adaptions of his work, however, this one has always slipped through my grasp, for reasons unknown. Upon watching it now I wish I had watched it sooner.

For the most part this is a good haunted house film, the story is suitably scary and the threat feels very real, Samuel L. Jackson does a lot with a very limited roll, and the dated early 2000s CGI effects bring an element of fond nostalgia with them. I would say the film crosses the line into unintentionally funny a few times, but for the most part this isn’t the case.

I saw the director’s cut ending and enjoyed it immensely I thought it managed to nail the tone perfectly between bleak and intriguing, I am aware there are several different endings out there and tried to watch as many of them as I could after watching this film to see which worked the best- I found the director’s cut ending was the best.

My one complaint of this film would be John Cusack. Now, this is only a light criticism but it must be said, Cusack is playing himself here as he often does, if you don’t like Cusack’s shtick then you will find his character irritating and annoying so that may hamper your enjoyment of this film.

Overall, a fun charming horror film.

Pros.

Jackson

The director’s cut ending

The dated CGI

The scares

Cons.

Cusack is not even trying to act here

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Pet Sematary: Sometimes Dead Is Better.

Pet Sematary is a supernatural horror film directed by Kevin Kolsch; based on the Stephen King novel of the same name. The film revolves around a family that finds a graveyard behind their house, that allows things to come back from the dead, this could be animals, or it could be people, but when they come back, they come back changed.

First things first, I just need to say I had very high expectations when I went in to see this film, as I love the work of Stephen King, as well as the 1980 version of this film. As a result of that I was disappointed with it and thought that while the new version did have a few cool scenes, it wasn’t a patch on the original film.

For me the issues began with the casting of Jason Clarke as Louis Reed. I don’t like Clarke and I certainly don’t rate him as an actor. I don’t know if I just haven’t seen him in the right role, but it seems like whenever he turns up in a film, that film turns out to be bad; the list of films that prove this point is long, but some choice examples are Winchester, Terminator Genesis and Serenity, however he is the best of a bad bunch.

This film has John Lithgow in it, he plays the neighbour that tells Louis about the pet semetary in the first place, Lithgow does the best with what little he has, but he is truly wasted in this film and his best scene is a scene that involves a child slashing the tendons in the base of his leg. What a waste.

The horror of this film is also not as well done as the 80’s version. Yes, that film was campy and a bit silly, but the scenes of the sister who is bed-bound in the attic, were genuinely frightening and left an impact. However, those same scenes in the 2019 version lose a lot of there impact thanks to an over-reliance on jump scares. I have talked at length about the plague that is jump scares, so I won’t go on about it here.

Finally, and perhaps worst of all we have the ending, which is significantly different from the book and the 1980 film, this time we see that the whole family has become evil thanks to the semetary and is going to kill baby Gage and that is how the film ends, so effectively the bad guys win. This could be done in such a way where it felt natural and earned, it is not inherently a bad thing. However, the way this ending is presented to us, leaves us feeling unsatisfied and let down; which then leaves a sour taste in the mouth when thinking about this film.

Overall, yet another remake that never needed to be made, disappointing, dumb and downright boring at times, don’t waste your money, watch it on TV, or stream it on Netflix.

Pros.

John Lithgow tries.

The classic song is back, even if it is a cover.

Cons.

Stop casting Jason Clarke!

The jump scares.

The lack of anything new or interesting.

2.5/5

Reviewed by Luke

In the Tall Grass: Getting Lost in the Weeds

In the Tall Grass is a supernatural horror film based on the work of Stephen King and his son Joe Hill. The plot follows a brother and sister who get lost in a field of tall grass and go missing. Then the boyfriend of the sister shows up to try and find out what is going on.

If the plot sounds uninspired, that’s because it is, it takes elements from a lot of other science fiction and, horror films and blends them into something that didn’t need to be made. King’s work is currently in demand, with all of his novels and novellas getting the big-screen treatment. However, as the saying goes, “they were too busy thinking about it they could they never thought about if they should”. This film proves that and then some.

In the Tall Grass seems like something that could work well as a 20-minute short film, but there isn’t enough material to stretch it to feature-length. As such we get long drawn out sequences of the characters in the tall grass just roaming around, not doing much of anything, these are supposed to be tense, but they feel like padding.

When watching the film, you can’t help but compare it to other films that have similar concepts, but that have used them in much better ways. An example of this is the idea of time loops, which is a third act twist. In the Tall Grass uses this Science Fiction staple in the laziest possible way, with everything from Groundhog Day to Happy Death Day using it better.

Most tragically of all is while watching this film I kept being reminded of King’s infinitely better film The Children of the Corn; which I would say plays heavy influence here. The issue with this is you can’t help but, think how much better that film is than this; it is not a favourable comparison.

What’s more, the acting is abysmal being so bad that I can’t remember a single character name or, motivation. They’re incredibly one-note and generic being little more than dull, fleshy characters who run around aimlessly and scream at things to remind us they’re scary. How this film managed to sign Patrick Wilson, of The Conjuring fame, onboard is anyone’s guess; this film is a blemish on his otherwise pretty stellar filmography.

Finally and perhaps worst of all, the film isn’t scary. When you watch a Stephen King film, you expect a certain standard of creepiness and scares; King has written some of the most chilling novels of the 20th and 21st century, but that doesn’t show here. The real terror of In the Tall Grass is just how boring, dull and repetitive it is; that is enough to keep anyone up for weeks.

Further proving the low standards Netflix has when it comes to green-lighting projects, In the Tall Grass is a bargain bin horror/ thriller, along the same lines as Sharknado or, other trash; though In the Tall Grass is somehow worse than these films. Another Netflix film to avoid.

1/5
Reviewed by Luke