I'm not telling anyone anything new when I say that the field of Stephen King film adaptations is littered with landmines. Each step taken is a risky one and if you keep going you are going to be injured - badly. For decades now long into the night intoxicant-inspired conversations have taken place arguing which King adaptations are actually worth a damn and which ones are so bad they're unwatchable. Even films some consider classics (THE SHINING, CARRIE, THE DEAD ZONE) have their detractors and some of the ones generally thought of as crap are sometimes hailed as underappreciated works of genius (THINNER, DREAMCATCHER, SLEEPWALKERS). I'm tempted to find a way to fund a study that correlates the age of the first time viewer with the estimated quality of King adaptations but barring that unlikely money sinkhole there seems no good test for judging where someone will fall on any particular film.
Personally I think most of the worst versions of King stories have been made for the small screen. Even the best of them neuter the material, excising the elements that give his tales their visceral kick, blanding them down to dull, middle of the road tales of clichéd horror. I haven't seen any of the new crop of work being done for streaming services (11.22.63, CASTLE ROCK) so maybe that is the visual medium that will allow his often lengthy stories to perfectly blossom.
I've never considered Firestarter to be a particularly good book and the film did nothing for me so I never returned to rewatch it even when endless cable reruns were available. The only memories that had stuck with me from over thirty years ago were of George C. Scott being pretty creepy and Drew Barrymore's hair flying around whenever she used her pyrokinetic powers. These were not the kind of memories to inspire a return visit. So, what did make me watch FIRESTARTER (1984) again after all these years? A Blu-Ray release, of course.
One of the film's biggest failings is the choice to very rarely cut into the dialog scenes with any close-ups to give the actors some help getting across the emotions of the characters. About thirty minutes into the film I began to notice how almost all of the film is composed of master shots of multiple actors who should be given some individual insert shots but are not. This has the effect of not only dampening the effectiveness of several performances and distancing us from the emotions onscreen but it also makes big sections of the film pretty dull. Composing your film primarily of master shots gives the feeling of watching a filmed play and destroys any dynamic energy you might be able to coax from your actors. This is supposed to be a science fiction horror movie! We need to have a sense of heightened passion, deep rage, outbursts of intense power that frightens us but most of the time we are simply distant observers of events of little consequence. This poor choice is the mistake that damns FIRESTARTER to second rate status on the list of Stephen King adaptations. For all the explosions, stunts and star power on display the film just isn't very interesting and there is no excuse for it. The word boring should never be used to describe a horror film.