When the trailer for Brightburn came out, I admit I was quite perplexed. The trailer said “Sony”, but what I saw clearly felt like DC/WB. I was torn between eagerly wanting to see the movie or never watching it. The footage screamed “Superman,” except evil … and in a horror film. They even used font choices and colors from that of Zack Snyderʼs Man of Steel, as if the filmmakers were taunting DC.
Brightburn is the story of a farming couple (Elizabeth Banks, David Denman) from the town of Brightburn, Kansas who are unable to conceive a child of their own. As fate would have it, a mysterious meteor crashes in their backyard–delivering them the son they so desperately crave. As a result the couple quickly reaches a decision to raise him as their own. What are the odds, right? It all seems as if it’s too good to be true… and it is.
Director David Yarovesky (The Hive) handles the script by Brian & Mark Gunn admirably. It clocks in at a mere 91 minutes, resulting in a tight, fast watch. Yarovesky lays out the story and ties everything together nicely, while the story never feels rushed. All 3 main characters show clear story arcs, with everyone having their own growth.
Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games) and David Denman (The Gift) are perfectly cast as a surrogate Ma and Pa Kent. Banks knocks it out of the park as a mother whose worse fears about their own child are slowly coming true in front of her eyes, and Denman as a father just trying to be the best he can, looking out for his son. They do their job well of sucking you in and selling you on believable parents in this exact situation. Jackson Dunnʼs performance as the villain-to-be deserves praise as well. There are must-see moments where you can visually see him shift between personas. Dunnʼs acting career is only going to go higher from here.
The trailer absolutely tees up a horror movie. However, the R-rating feels more ‘tacked on’ than not. For a few moments, the camera lingers on the gore. However, with 5 or 6 edits and re-dubbing a couple lines of dialogue, it wouldn’t be any darker or more terrifying than last year’s Venom. Brightburn, much like Venom, includes parts I love, but to enjoy them, I have to let go of my biggest issues.
What I donʼt love is the flagrant inspiration from Superman. While I would love this to have been an alternate timeline DC movie, truth of the matter is that itʼs not. Meanwhile, the writers could have told this exact story in a way that would stand on itʼs own. At the end of the day, it’s enjoyable if you can get past itʼs “inspiration”. If you can, you will love it.
Brightburn is currently playing in theaters nationwide.
‘Brightburn’: Does Familiarity Breed Contempt? [Review]