Stephen King is probably the writer with the most works adapted for cinema in history. InCarrie,passing through The Shining, It, The Fog, Doctor Sleep,until reaching the current Flames of vengeance, adaptations of his work have ranged from resounding successes to outright failures. firestarter(book known in Brazil as the arsonist, which was perhaps a more apt translation of the title) had previously been adapted for film in 1984, starring Drew Barrymore, but now gets a new version Blumhouse, which has the presence of Zac Efron and the direction of Keith Thomas.

The plot introduces us to the couple Andy MacGee(the aforementioned Zac Efron) and Victoria MacGee (sydney lemmon), as well as his teenage daughter, Charlie MacGee (Ryan Kiera Armstrong), who live in a small town in the Massachusetts region. We soon learned that the couple was the victim of an experimental program by the US government in the 1990s, which tried to use their paranormal abilities. Now the family lives on the run, as their daughter is also possessed of psychic powers (in this case, a powerful pyrokinetic ability), which she struggles to control. When Charlie's powers end up manifesting uncontrollably at school, the family knows they will need to run away again, as soon the government agency will be on the hunt for them again.

The film has a clear 80s appeal in its proposal. Paranormal powers, secret government facilities, child protagonist. In practically everything there is an echo that we can associate with other works from the 80s, such as scanners, for example. Not coincidentally, the time when the first version was filmed. It is a type of reference that has become comfortable nowadays, like the success of Stranger Things show. However, while the Netflix series fully embraces the 80s setting and aesthetic, Flames of Vengeance seeks to update it, transposing the story to our days.

The direction and the script (this one in charge of michael teems) does little to attenuate 80s stereotypes (if only because this is not even the objective of the film). There are roadie movie escapes, secret government conspiracies, and even the typical two-dimensional villains: the government agent looking for a paranormal weapon (the child), the repentant scientist who was part of the original show, the hunter. clandestine who repents and seeks redemption. They all bring to mind something that has been seen many times over the last 40 years.

It is true that there is also a certain commonplace in most plots based on King's books. The approach of using paranormal powers for terror is a recurring theme for the writer, but although his adaptations have achieved memorable successes in the hands of Brian de Palma (with Carrie) and Stanley Kubrick ( with The illuminated), it is also true that not all directors agree with their work. In case of Flames of vengeance, it is even possible to perceive an influence of Carrie at work, which heightens comparisons with an adaptation that has become a horror classic.

There's not much to say about the cast. Zac Efron does not fail to convey parental affection like the protagonist's father, as well as to pass some threat with his paranormal power to control minds, but there are some moments when more emotional involvement on his part would be expected, such as after the death of his wife (something whose blame lies more with the direction than with the actor). On the other hand, the young Ryan Kiera Armstrong turns out to be a pleasant surprise, managing to show a Charlie convincing the viewer, alternating between drama, fear and anger. The supporting cast has little to show for it except rainbird (Michael Greyeyes, stereotypical indigenous hunter with no clear motivations), and the Captain Hollister (Gloria Reuben, which despite conveying an image of power and debauchery, also lacks a convincing motivation).

The direction of Keith Thomas it's pretty regular, with no particularly memorable moments, but it manages to create an appropriate suspenseful mood. Unfortunately, there is not enough development of relevant aspects of the plot (such as the reactions to the death of the mother of Charlie). In addition, there are elements that are added to the story, fulfill the role of starting a dramatic interlude, but are left behind without consequence or weight afterward. The soundtrack of John Carpenter it gets extra merits for the film, although it collaborates a lot for the impression of rescue of the 80's atmosphere, with its typical synthesizers of the time.

Obviously, the film has its merits. The attempt to update the atmosphere of 80's films is an investment that has good potential for success today, and adapting a work by Stephen King always brings extra weight to production. And indeed, there are thought-provoking elements in the narrative, which perhaps would have been much better used if they did not echo so loudly productions (also based on books by the same author) of the past.

By: Wallace William

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