‘Firestarte­r’ sparks anew; Rebel relives ‘Senior Year’

- Brian Truitt

This is a freaky Friday, indeed: Zac Efron is playing a dad and Rebel Wilson is a 37-year-old cheerleade­r.

This weekend, Efron stars as the protective father to a pyrokineti­c kid in a new adaptation of a Stephen King classic, while Wilson plays a teenager who wakes up from a 20-year coma (and still wants to be the most popular girl in school) in a new Netflix comedy. It’s a busy week for the streaming service, which also is rolling out a true-life British spy thriller starring Colin Firth and “Succession” star Matthew Macfadyen, as well as a documentar­y about a fertility doctor who inseminate­d his patients.

Here’s a guide to new movies that will satisfy every cinematic taste, plus some noteworthy theatrical films making their streaming debut:

If you’re a Zac Efron superfan: ‘Firestarte­r’

Keith Thomas directed last year’s best horror film, religious haunter “The Vigil,” but his lean-and-mean compacting of the King novel doesn’t have quite the same flair. Charlie (Ryan Kiera Armstrong), an 11-year-old who can set fires with her mind and is getting stronger by the day, goes on the run with her psychic dad (Efron) when she’s hunted by a government agency. King purists will be enflamed since the movie compresses the story to focus on the father/daughter relationsh­ip, but the remake is unnerving enough and gets an old-school boost courtesy of a creepy John Carpenter score.

h Where to watch: In theaters and on Peacock

If you love a good high-school comedy: ‘Senior Year’

Wilson plays a cheerleade­r who takes a nasty tumble in 2002, wakes up two decades later to a world of social media and political correctnes­s that boggles her mind, and re-enrolls in high school so she can finish her senior year and be crowned prom queen. The film borrows a ton from better teen movies yet also sends up those tropes while successful­ly leaning into Gen Z jokes and early 2000s nostalgia.

h Where to watch: Netflix

If you want an enjoyable history lesson: ‘Operation Mincemeat’

The true-life World War II spy movie casts Firth and Macfadyen as British intelligen­ce officers who hatch a gonzo plan in 1943 to use a dead corpse carrying secret papers to deceive the Nazis and save thousands of lives. It’s a satisfying period thriller even with the odd detours, including a tossed-in love triangle and officer Ian Fleming (Johnny Flynn) coming upon the occasional James Bond inspiratio­n.

h Where to watch: Netflix

If you like coming-of-age films with a scary side: ‘The Innocents’

The Nordic horror film is a well-crafted, immersive and sometimes disturbing look at the cruelty of adolescenc­e. An 11year-old girl and her older sister, on the severe end of the autism spectrum, move to a new apartment complex with their family. The kids and the youngsters around them start displaying mysterious psychic abilities and other powers, with acts of youthful curiosity quickly leading to darker turns of jealousy and revenge.

h Where to watch: In theaters and on Apple TV, Google Play

If you’re all about stranger-than-fiction documentar­ies: ‘Our Father’

An Indiana woman named Jacoba Ballard, conceived via sperm donation, took an at-home DNA test hoping she might find some siblings or even her biological father. The film chronicles how she in fact first found seven half-siblings. And then – to their horror – dozens more emerge as they discover a fertility doctor gave his own sperm to their mothers, as well as a court system ill-equipped to bring justice amid an increasing­ly surreal scenario.

Where to watch: Netflix

h If you’re curious about the porn industry: ‘Pleasure’

Sexually explicit but nonetheles­s intriguing, the cautionary tale centers on ambitious Swedish actress Bella Cherry (Sofia Kappel) who ventures to LA to become an adult film star. Things get rough (in multiple ways) for her as she makes questionab­le moves in her ascent within the industry. The film weaves mundane workplace drama into an eye-opening narrative that, filled with sex toys and naked abandon, isn’t for everyone.

h Where to watch: In theaters

If you’re a music nerd: ‘Jazz Fest: A New Orleans Story’

What other movie features Pitbull talking about fried oysters? The documentar­y tackles the five-decade history of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and its legendary slate of performers. So come for appearance­s by Jimmy Buffett, Bruce Springstee­n and Earth, Wind & Fire but stay for the deep dive into the early days of jazz and how the fest’s diverse musical styles have inspired and influenced Katy Perry and others.

h Where to watch: In theaters

If you’re a Christina Ricci completist: ‘Monstrous’

The art-house horror film offers retro 1950s flavor and slow-burn terror, with Christina Ricci starring as a single mom who flees with her 7-year-old to a remote farmhouse to get away from her abusive ex.

A strange presence emerges from the pond at night, wanting to take away the kid and creating extra problems for an already-stressed mother. It’s a decent throwback chiller that pays off with an emotional twist at the end.

h Where to watch: In theaters and on Apple TV, Vudu

Also on streaming

h The action adventure “The Lost City,” starring Sandra Bullock as a romance novelist needing a rescue and Channing Tatum as her well-meaning but dim cover model, is now available to watch on Paramount+.

h The period gangster drama “The Outfit,” with Mark Rylance as an English tailor who has to survive a night alongside dangerous Chicago hoods, is streaming on Peacock.

 ?? PROVIDED BY KEN WORONER/UNIVERSAL PICTURES ?? Zac Efron stars as a psychic father trying to keep his pyrokineti­c daughter (Ryan Kiera Armstrong) safe from government hands in “Firestarte­r.”
PROVIDED BY KEN WORONER/UNIVERSAL PICTURES Zac Efron stars as a psychic father trying to keep his pyrokineti­c daughter (Ryan Kiera Armstrong) safe from government hands in “Firestarte­r.”

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