After being very intrigued by a trailer I had seen online, I decided to check out Brightburn this past weekend and I am very happy that I did. The film emulates the origin story of Superman: a ship crash lands in Kansas with a young boy inside who is taken in by a farming couple. That’s before it makes a hard departure from how that story plays out. If you like horror films and don’t mind a somewhat familiar story then you should check this film out immediately!
The movie, directed by David Yarovesky and produced by James Gunn, has a respectable group of actors who play their assigned roles well. Elizabeth Banks teams up with Gunn for the first time since 2006’s Slither. Although she isn’t really given much to work with, she plays the loving mother who believes in her son almost perfectly. Jackson A. Dunn, who plays the main role of Brandon Breyer, also delivers a solid performance of a literal outcast who, after realizing his powers, begins doing whatever he wants. The cast is rounded out by David Denman, Matt Jones, Meredith Hagner, and Gregory Alan Williams.
Brightburn is by no means perfect, as many of the characters decisions and motives don’t seems to make much logical sense, in my opinion. Although the couple in the film is shown to be struggling with infertility, I don’t think that taking in and raising an alien as your own child is the greatest idea. Their seemingly parental incompetence is on full display when Brandon’s rising defiance and anger is exhibited, but his parents don’t pick up on this until much later in the film. Even after they witness some horrific events firsthand.
One of my favorite parts of the film is that it’s shot as a horror film, where we see most of the violent events from the victim’s perspective. It’s truly terrifying to watch what a person with super strength, speed, flight, and heat vision could do to regular humans and with such ease. There is a scene where Brandon is toying with one of his victims in a cat and mouse like game where he interacts with the environment around her but she is unable to see him. At some point she turns around only to see a masked individual floating above the ground with red glowing eyes. You can almost feel her terror since we see everything from her perspective.
Another thing I enjoyed about Brightburn was the mixing of the genres. The film is first and foremost a horror film with elements of body horror and super-origin story. The cinematography was great in every scene where Brandon was using his powers. They were able to conjure up not only feelings of fear and dread but mainly suspense by a combination of filming techniques and the use of sound. There are a couple of scenes towards the end of the movie that I thought were brilliant in their use of filming techniques and aesthetic that clearly show what Brandon is capable of.
At the end of the day, despite the film’s slightly lazy story and a few small flaws, I had an absolute blast watching this movie and would be very interested in watching a sequel if one is made in the future. Overall I would give the film a solid 7.5/10.
Brightburn is playing now in theaters nationwide.