Brightburn is a horror movie that offers a brutal take on the superhero origin story. The plot is simple: What if Superman had turned out to be evil instead of good? Horror fans will find plenty to like but the trailers have given away too much. Read more in our Brightburn review here!
Brightburn is very much a horror movie and it’s about one of our most beloved superheroes: Superman. Obviously, this is never stated directly since this isn’t a DC Comics movie. That’s why Clark Kent is now named Brandon Breyer and he lives in Brightburn instead of Smallville.
I had extremely high expectations for this movie. Not only do I love horror movies, but I also adore superhero movies. Unfortunately, I’ve been forced to recognize that my expectations were too great. Also, too much of the plot has been revealed in the trailers which was another disappointment.
Don’t worry, you still have quite a lot of very brutal scenes to look forward to in the actual movie. Including one of the most physically simple car accidents in recent time. Yeah, it’s a really nasty scene!
What’s lacking is the emotion and depth of the plot, which I didn’t actually expect would be a problem. Read more in our Brightburn review below.
Nature versus nurture?
As mentioned before (and obviously revealed in the trailers), Brightburn is a horror twist on Superman. The names are different, but the origin story is exactly the same. That’s actually part of what works.
And yet, Brandon Breyer (the evil version of Clark Kent) is extremely intelligent and turns out to be grotesquely sinister!
On the most basic level, Brightburn is all about nature versus nurture; Could we have avoided World War 2 if someone had just loved little Adolf more when he was a boy? And can Brandon be saved with such loving parents (his mother especially)? Or was he placed on this Earth to destroy and kill?!
Even though the comparison to Superman is impossible to ignore (and certainly shouldn’t be), the actual storyline reminded me more of The Prodigy. You have a mom who will move Heaven and Earth to save her son since she believes he is essentially good.
Dad is somewhat quicker to realize that something is very wrong, but he doesn’t (initially) go all Thelma on the boy!
A great cast that only scratches the surface
The biggest challenge with Brightburn is the fact that we never get fully emotionally invested in the story. I need to feel a lot more tension and pain with a story like this! You’re messing with the story of a childhood hero with a horror twist. And I’m left feeling rather indifferent.
Elizabeth Banks does give all she has and delivers a wonderful performance. However, with the way the story evolves, she is having to struggle way too much to get us along on the emotional ride of her character. While she might believe young Brandon is still good, we know that he definitely is not.
With The Prodigy, we knew that something else was going on and that the son was essentially good and not in control when something bad happened. This is not the case with Brandon Breyer even though it almost appears this way at first.
Brandon Breyer is very well portrayed by Jackson A. Dunn, who was also a young Scott “Antman” Long in Avengers: Endgame. However, I don’t feel like I should (or want to) root for him. All it would have taken was more scenes of him being hurt or bullied to help us understand why he’s so quick to be cruel. Now, he’s just evil which almost becomes boring.
I mean, every supervillain needs to have a proper origin story to be interesting. That’s kind of the rule of comics!
The rest of the cast is fine as well, but they are mostly just there for Brandon to hurt and kill. Except for David Denman, who plays his dad, but doesn’t get quite as much material to work with as Banks. Brightburn should be watched for Elizabeth Banks and Jackson A. Dunn.
Watch Brightburn at the movies now!
The movie was directed by David Yarovesky who has made quite a lot of short films in the past. Brightburn is only his second feature film since his first movie The Hive from 2014. This was also in the horror sci-fi genre which I hope he will continue working within.
The script was written by Brian Gunn and Mark Gunn (yes, they are related to director James Gunn). They haven’t written too much of interest prior to this movie. Mostly, they’ve worked on TV series and are working with developing two new TV series as well; Superhero story Jupiter’s Legacy and a Starsky & Hutch reboot.
Even though I can’t help but feel disappointed with the end result of Brightburn, I recognize that this is mostly due to my own high expectations. This is a beast of a movie with some truly great jump-scares and crazy death scenes. In other words, there is plenty in Brightburn to make horror fans happy and it will only benefit from being watched on the silver screen.
Brightburn will be out in movie theaters in the US from May 23, 2019.
Director: David Yarovesky
Cast: Elizabeth Banks, David Denman, Jackson A. Dunn, Matt Jones, Meredith Hagner
What if a child from another world crash-landed on Earth, but instead of becoming a hero to mankind, he proved to be something far more sinister?