Brightburn - 2019
Director(s): David Yarovesky
Writer(s): Brian Gunn and Mark Gunn
Cinematography by: Michael Dallatorre
Editor(s): Andrew S. Eisen and Peter Gvozdas
Cast: Elizabeth Banks, David Denman, Jackson Dunn, Matt Jones, Meredith Holland and Emmie Hunter
There is an argument often made that Hollywood "only" makes superhero genre films; they don't; the genre though has been a staple in the box office for the last decade. Along with the superhero genre, you also see the horror genre making waves at the box office, so it only was a matter of time for Hollywood to deliver a film that crossed over the two types. And while we had in the past seen superhero movies with horror elements, Blade and Hellboy, Brightburn is the first pure horror film with superhero elements. With the elevator pitch being; "what if Superman turned evil?," I was instantly sold, and it became one of my most anticipated movies of 2019 - walking out of the theater, I cannot help to think I should've waited for it to hit a streaming app. Let's talk about it.
The story follows Tori (Banks) and Kyle Breyer (Denman), a married couple living in a small rural town called Brightburn. They have been trying to conceive for years to no luck, and one night, fate brought them a child from above. A baby boy crash-landed in the woods next to their farm, and they adopted and raised him as one of their own. On his twelfth birthday, the boy starts to exhibit unusual behavior, as he learns of his true origins and begins to discover that he possesses superhuman powers. When mysterious deaths and disappearances begin to pile up in the town of Brightburn, Tori and Kyle must make a difficult decision about the boy fate brought to their lives.
The Gunn's script is frustrating at times as it does push forward a fun take on the Superman origin story - of him embodying evil instead of everything good of humanity. The story is heavily reliant on horror story-beats that it becomes a generic and soulless experience - and I cannot help to think that it could've been something else, a commentary on ultimate power and how it can corrupt a young boy. The "why" he is killing and destroying everything he loved is generic, and the execution is lazy. I do not hate this film by any stretch of the imagination; I was just a bit bored in between the very sparse tense filed sequences. It also hurts the film that the child actor is not up to the challenge in delivering a compelling performance of a boy discovering that not only did his parent lied to him for his entire life, but he is not even human. His "meltdown" was a bit cringe-inducing - I tend to be more lenient when it comes to child actors (they are children), but in this case, it was hard.
Director Yarovesky utilized his budget to the fullest, as the sequences lean towards “less is more” and the special effects work for the most part. The use of POV shots where fun very well, and it did place the audience in the shoes of the victims. The third act is probably my favorite, as it fully embraces the kid's powers and Banks delivers on the frights – but I do wish they explored more the mother and son aspect of the situation, play up the fact that she must fight the boy she prayed and hoped for years.
Brightburn is a fine enough horror movie that left me still waiting for the perfect marriage of the horror and superhero genre. Maybe this is on me for expecting more out of it, and I did enjoy the real horror moments, so if you come in with low expectation, you may like the film more than I did.
Brightburn is a Streamer!
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