‘Brightburn’ | Film Review: Superhero Horror Movie Wastes Potential

If you’ve seen the trailers for Brightburn at any given time, it might sound interesting for a horror superhero movie that takes the origin story of Superman, but make the boy evil? Crazy, but it might be something worth the chance to be cool. Maybe.

What’s the Story: Tori (Elizabeth Banks) and Kyle Breyer (David Denman) are a married couple who have been trying to conceive a child a quite some timeĀ until a strange spaceship crashes near their farm and found a baby. They decided to raise it as their own and name it Brandon (Jackson A. Dunn). As he grows older, Brandon starts to develop superpowers and decides to use them not for good, but evil.

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Just hearing the premise sounded fascinating, and know James Gunn is a producer and the screenplay is penned by his brother Brian and their cousin Mark Gunn was giving a bit of satisfaction. And yet, I honestly found Brightburn to be underwhelming. But as I thought about it the next day, it’s just alright when it should’ve been a lot better.

Let’s start with the good aspects of Brightburn, and that’s the performances from Banks and Dunman, respectively. They surprisedly worked well together as these parents that don’t know what’s up with their son. And I liked that it didn’t take them a while to find out the truth.

But with that interesting premise at hand, that’s all there is and really nothing more, to be honest. Brightburn could’ve been a smart take on the slasher genre and of Superman’s origin story, and it just becomes predictable and un-scary after a while.

Even so, I can’t recall a moment where I cared for Brandon because of his motivation on why he uses these powers for bad instead of good. Sure, he’s drawn to the spacecraft in the middle of the night and a voice telling him to “take the world,” but it never explains why. Dunn’s performance was just fine, by the way, because there’s nothing to him.

He’s seen to be a bit of a stalker and he’s becoming a teenager. Just think of Brandon as Damien from The Omen and Dane DeHaan’s character from Chronicle, and that’s your kid. It’s all puberty, probably.

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This is a 90-minute movie that should’ve been longer to get a better sense of the story out of this. Director David Yarovesky (The Hive) and the Gunn’s got an excellent concept here, but it all felt rushed for a premise like this. More needed to be explored and give more of a reason for Brandon to use these abilities. Also, it tends to take itself seriously.

Even when the movie tries to be scary, it falls victim to cheap scares and everything being seen a mile away. The unexpected gory did surprise even though I knew it was R-rated, and there’s one scene that grossly gives you that fact, at least for me.

Sometimes a simple promise that sounds cool doesn’t always mean it’s destined to be perfect, and Brightburn does then out to be a letdown. If there are planning to do an eventual sequel to this in the future, fingers crossed it’ll outdo this and be good.

Grade: C-

Cast: Elizabeth Banks, David Denman, Jackson A. Dunn, Matt Jones, Meredith Hagner

Director: David Yarovesky

Writer(s): Brian and Mark Gunn

Runtime: 90 Minutes

Studio: Sony/Screen Gems


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