When the trailer first hit for David Yarovesky’s superhero horror film Brightburn, everyone was excited for this film. What looked like a movie that questioned, “What if Superman was evil?” seemed to resonate well with viewers. However, the execution of the film left much to be desired.
Produced by James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy) and written by his cousin Mark and brother Brian, the film focuses on Tori and Kyle Breyer, a couple who’s Kansas farm was struck by an alien spaceship and raised the infant inside as their own son. Sound familiar?
The son, Brandon, starts to realize that he’s different around his 12th birthday. He realizes he has superhuman strength and starts to hear voices in his head. Brandon then starts going on a murderous rampage when he doesn’t get his way.
There are a few things that really could’ve made the film better. I think Brandon should’ve been closer to 16 or 17 when his powers developed, or at least when the rampage started. Having a sex talk and perverted behavior in film seems awkward with 12 year olds. Also, every death in the scene was unnecessarily gory – which follow standard horror tropes.
On the plus side, the film boasts a relatively strong cast. Elizabeth Banks and David Denman play Tori and Kyle, and while both are known more for their comedy chops, do real strong work in the drama/horror subject in this film. Other comedic actors Matt Jones and Meredith Hagner also put in strong performances.
It’s hard to really grade the acting on Jackson A. Dunn who portrays Brandon/Brightburn. He’s a pretty blank slate throughout the film and really doesn’t emote much. For most of the film it seems like it is on purpose, but there are a few times in the film that looks like he’s trying to convey emotion and it falls flat.
There’s definitely a set up to a sequel to follow, and with a worldwide gross of $28 million against a $6-12 million budget, it doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibilities. Hopefully if a sequel is made, they delve deeper into Brandon’s psyche and watch his powers grow and his internal struggles – or lack thereof. In Brightburn, it really feels like all his actions come secondary to those of Tori and Kyle, and lacks a clear sense of Brandon’s motives.
Final Grade: 6.0/10