It’s like a trip to the Twilight Zone, a “what if” parallel where the ‘Man of Steel’ wished to decimate the planet instead of saving it. That undoubtedly was the jumping point that Director David Yarovesky (The Hive) and Producer James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy) used when creating Brightburn.
The film follows Brightburn (Smallville) Kansas natives, Tori (Elizabeth Banks) and Kyle Breyer (David Denman), a married couple who are desperately trying to conceive a child. When hope seems to be lost, an extraterrestrial ship crashes the woods containing a miracle baby with no apparent family. Instead of calling the cops, leaving well enough alone or going live on Instagram, the dumb duo decides to keep the space rugrat. Flash-forward, Brandon Breyer is (Jackson A. Dunn) is a young man discovering his true identity: an alien freak with glowing red eyes. You know, normal kid stuff. When Brandon begins to hear voices compelling him to take over the world, he fights the urge for all of ten seconds before totally complying and killing anyone who proves to be a remote nuisance. His murders are lavish but anonymous, only leaving behind his pseudo supervillain signature which is a clever (not clever) play on his personal initials. How discrete.
Brightburn is a horror movie, but it’s also a superhero movie. Subsequently, it’s the best of neither worlds. The plot unfolds too quickly, there isn’t enough time to emotionally resonate with the protagonists. Brandon is far more interesting to watch, but his character lacks duality. There’s nothing to relate with, every archetype in this movie is a one note experience. Banks delivers an emotional performance, but must have suffered from back problems upon wrapping, because she carried the entire film herself. Aca-ouch. In actuality, Dunn also deserves recognition. The majority of Brandon’s character is portrayed through non-verbal acting, expressed only by his eyes and body language. It’s chilling. Dunn’s talent speaks for itself, without speaking much at all.
It doesn’t go unnoticed what the filmmakers were trying to accomplish in making Brightburn. The idea is surprisingly fresh. I want to see an evil, barely pubescent Clark Kent. I want to see what would happen if he was a bad guy hellbent on destroying humanity. In a market of light, joking-riffing heroes, and forgettable forces of evil, this film aims to be different and we should applaud that. Needless to say, it seems the execution didn’t go as planned, much like my parent’s marriage. If you happen to be a superhero junkie, this is a film worth seeing. It takes risks and ventures into new territory for the genre. Brightburn is stuffed with comic-trope references, suspenseful jump-scares, and creative death scenes. I found myself having a lot of fun pointing out the many Superman similarities, even though super, it was not.
What was your favorite scene in Brightburn? Let us know in a comment below.
Brightburn is in theaters now