Stephen King has been the undisputed king of horror since 1974, when he published his first book, “Carrie.” The adaptation of his work for cinema and television, however, does not always manage to retain its majesty.
“Flames of Vengeance”, the second adaptation of the book of the same name released in 1980, falls into the ditch of unfortunate attempts to reproduce, off paper, his talent for creating fantastic stories.
New filmdirected by unknown Keith Thomas, is a collection of disconnected scenes that attempt, unsuccessfully, to craft a story that ultimately makes sense. divulge: Do not do.
Charlie McGee (Ryan Kiera Armstrong) is an 11-year-old girl who lives with her parents, Andy (Zac Efron) and Vicky (Sydney Lemmon). As youngsters, they volunteered in experiments that altered their DNA, giving them superhuman powers.
Charlie, in turn, inherited his parents’ abilities and an “extra”: pyrokinesis, which induces spontaneous combustion in any person, animal, or object. The onset of adolescence increases the frequency of incidents, and the girl fears losing control of the “bad thing” inside her.
To make matters worse, the family is constantly on the move, hiding from a mysterious organization that wants to study Charlie’s abilities and, perhaps, weaponize her. When the daughter is exposed and her mother is killed, she and her father begin a frantic escape.
Absolutely nothing in “Flames of Vengeance” makes sense. Each scene seems to jump to the next without any consequences. It’s like a collection of sketch sewn together into something that looks like a script. It gives sadness.
Calm down, it’s getting worse. Zac Ephron leads a cast that is a real dramatic void. There’s an assassin who also has powers (although you never know which ones) played by Michael Greyeyes, probably the least impressive actor in history.
Gloria Reuben plays the head of the agency that pursues the paranormal. But if the character has any motivation, she has seen fit not to share it with the public. As for newcomer Ryan Kiera Armstrong, who plays Charlie, let’s just say she screams good.
For a film released in 2022, “Flames of Vengeance” brings very poor production. The visual choices are dated, the special effects unconvincing, and the whole vibe is reminiscent of movies made for television three decades ago. There’s not much of a difference here from the previous, 1984 adaptation starring Drew Barrymore as a child.
Whether the nostalgic vibe is intentional or not, with its synthesizer score by John Carpenter, the fact is that once again Stephen King’s work has been treated like an end to the fair, when its scale should suggest exactly opposite.
Without a script that can understand the intricacies of its work, or a direction that can evoke tension or emotional connection, “Flames of Vengeance” leaves a bright future in lists of Stephen King’s worst adaptations. Right at the end of a long line.