Movie Review by: Daniel DeRey
Brightburn is directed by David Yarovesky, produced by James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy), and written by Brian Gunn and Mark Gunn (James’s brother and cousin respectively). The film stars Elizabeth Banks, David Denman, and Jackson A. Dunne and is about a couple on a farm in Kansas who, after a meteor shower, discover an alien craft that contains a baby boy. The pair raises the boy as their son, but ten years later discover that he may have super powers that make him stronger and more powerful than anyone alive. Even though this might sound like the new Superman reboot, the young son, Brandon Breyer, takes a much different approach to using his powers: a more violent and scary approach.
As you can probably tell from the description and even the trailer for this film, the writers were clearly trying to pose the question what if Superman decided to be a psychopathic killer when he was a child? This question is answered in Brightburn, which in itself, is a short, entertaining, thrilling, unsettling, and violent horror film.
One of the best things about this movie is the fact that it wastes very little time in getting to what you came to see. The film opens with the parents’ discovery of the crashed spaceship and then cuts right to their son at present day. You’re almost immediately thrown into the meat of the story, which makes all of the difference in a horror spectacle film like this one. Another reason that this story works is that it efficiently establishes the relationships of all of the characters. The fact that these relationships, from mother/son to aunt/nephew to husband/wife, all feel so genuine is what helps to make the conflict so much more intense.
The film looks way more expensive then it is and the cinematography is expertly done in the film. A good portion of it feels as if you are watching a more restrained and colorful version of Zack Snyder’s 2013 Man of Steel. Speaking of visuals, this is an R-Rated film for a reason, and there are some very gory kills in this movie that might put some off, but for those who are hoping for a blood-thirsty kid version of Superman killing people, you’re going to get your money’s worth.
Again, Brightburn is a horror film in every sense of the word, but it’s not one of those boring conveyer-belt horror films that you can find every other weekend in September. David Yarovesky knows how to creep out audience members while also telling a gripping and dramatic story with real characters. Brightburn deals with a lot of issues about parenting and how much responsibility parents have with their children’s actions. These and other serious issues are played out perfectly in this dramatic and action packed horror-fest.
The acting performances are fantastic. Elizabeth Banks is the perfect mother who wants to love and be there for her son. She portrays every emotion you can think of from horrified guilt to loving warmth. The emotional weight of this film rests on her shoulders and she succeeds tremendously. Not to be overlooked is David Denman. Most people will know him as Roy from The Office, but he deserves to be recognized for his tremendous work as the father because he brings a lot of weight to the role and gives a very grounded, realistic performance. Other people who need to be praised are Matt Jones, who plays the uncle of the main child, who is great at providing comic relief in really tense moments, and young actress, Emmie Hunter who plays one of the main character’s classmates who has a lot of serious emotions to play and does it very well. The performance that makes or breaks the entire film, however, is that of Jackson A. Dunn, Brightburn himself. Dunn gives the most perfect performance that one could ask for in this role. He is subtle when he needs to be, intense when he needs to be, and incredibly unsettling and horrifying when he needs to. There are times when you feel sorry for his character and there are times when you hate his character, both of which are a huge credit to Dunn’s abilities as an actor.
All in all, I don’t have many bad things to say about Brightburn, because the movie was fairly straightforward. There are not as many twists and turns as one might hope for, but the film picks a story and tells it very well. You understand where all of the characters are coming from, and are horrified and entertained by the troubles that they go through. All in all, Brightburn is an entertaining and intense hybrid of Man of Steel, Chronicle, and We Need To Talk About Kevin, and I’m sure it will entertain those intrigued by the twisted premise presented by its trailers. B+
I hope that you enjoyed our first review from Daniel!
Until Next Time,