Sam discovers that his parents were part of an experiment with nuclear power while he was in the womb. Upon being born, he is proclaimed a perfectly healthy baby. Shortly after his parents burst into flames (spontaneously!).
Sam discovers he has the power to make things burst into flames. When he gets angry, he causes people to erupt in violent flames. But it is not just other people. When a victim burns, so does he.
There are some goofy moments, like when staring into a fire, he has memories from before he was born. Or the fact that they talk about Spontaneous Human Combustion as a totally scientific fact and common occurrence. Or the psychic radio host.
What really makes this work is Brad Dourif’s performance. Sam is kind and sweet, so when he starts to struggle with his power, he is pretty sympathetic. This is especially true as he becomes unable to know who he can trust.
The ending gets a little convoluted, trying to be both tragic and “happy”.
The effects in the film are quite good, if somewhat hyper-dramatic.
Overall, though largely forgotten, this is a pretty strong effort from Hooper.