What if a child from another world crash-landed on Earth, but instead of becoming a hero to mankind, he proved to be something far more sinister?
Something you have never seen before? sorta……
Right off the bat, I really enjoyed this movie, a mash up of super hero meets horror combination. That in itself is far and very few in between. Unless you consider “Venom” a movie that fits that category. Though what we have here is a movie that wouldn’t have worked quite as well without the 2 genre coming together. Before getting too deep into the review, I must inform you that it does come with a few spoilers. So if you want to go into it without any notion beyond what the trailer presented, then read no further.
Brightburn, a film that arrived in theaters under a very intriguing name, is actually the name of the small Kansas town the story is set in. Centered in a small town community lifestyle, Brightburn feels like it was filmed in the same location as the movie “Signs”.
The movie begins as a science fiction piece centered on the arrival of an alien infant who’s spaceship crashes into the backyard of residents, Tori and Kyle Breyer. Tori (played by actress Elizabeth Banks) and her husband (played by David Denman) have been struggling to conceive a child. Low and behold, almost credited to wishing for it, you would say….they are blessed with a newborn right in their own backyard.
Now the crazy thing about this film, is it feels exactly like the story of Clark Kent, who in similar fashion crashed to the earth to become Earth’s savior, Superman. Flip that premise making Clark evil and you have the basic nuts and bolts of this movie.
It’s the misdirection of familiar elements that what makes this film different. Brightburn works on the level of an intense horror film which is the unexpected factor of this film. It wouldn’t sound like it, however the Breyer’s teenage son who has just reached puberty is beginning to come into his element, realizing that he is not like other humans. Equipped with super powers, laser vision, super speed, and the ability to fly, Tori and Kyle Breyer’s son Brandon (Jackson A. Dunn) is finally coming into his own. His abilities grant him the powers that many teens wish they had, and in the same sense is awkwardly used (such as spying and flying into his high school crush’s room in the middle of the night). Brandon, a quiet and shy kid, begins to realize that he can pretty much do as he wishes including shaking down locals who appear or attempt to get him into trouble.
There is a deeper message here that deals with his revelation to take over the Earth upon reaching his full maturity. This combined with his physical assaults on friends, family, and local bystanders is the threshold for the horror elements of this film taking more of a kid-horror-films tone such as “Orphan”, “Children of the Corn” and “The Omen”.
There is no demonic possessions occurring here, but rather the realism that Brandon was sent by hostile aliens to murder the world. It’s clever delight of all this and more as we get some really intense gory scenes, villainy, and creepy kid segments. Brandon who has decided to embrace his new bad kid role dons a quirky handmade costume and zipping around town at light speed to carry out his personal conflicts and desires.
Elizabeth Banks and David Denman do a great job playing the confused shocked parents who bring the phrase to life, “careful what you wish for”. Their alien discovery, which they thought could be corralled into normal child upbringing, backfires on them with Brandon becoming the alpha of the family.
This film was a delight and a keeper worth watching perhaps a few times for its great use of suspense, special effects, and storyline. In fact, you almost predict a sequel that sees Brandon tearing up the planet, however, I am going to make the assumption that it was just a clever 1-off designed to appeal to others with its almost cult-like feeling fashion.
The film was directed by David Yarovesky who really is quite new to feature films. A handful of short films to his name and the directing of 2014’s “The Hive”, David Yarovesky has really proven his talents with this release. It is also worth noting that this film was produced by James Gunn and Kenneth Huang, who have been attached to several great films of past.
Highly recommended! A sharp thriller with horrific super heroism at its disposal. Designed to thrill, scare, and entertain, “BrightBurn” is a clear winner!