★★★ | Zach Hester
We all know the origin story of Superman. The hero born on another planet and found as a baby after his spaceship crashes on Earth became the most powerful being in the world when he realized his full powers as a budding teenager. Now ponder this: what would’ve happened if Superman, whose Earth name was Clark Kent, had taken a hard-left turn on the hero stuff and instead given into anger, rage and darkness? That scenario leads us to Brightburn, the debut film from David Yarovesky about who follows the Superman origin story (without ever name dropping a single DC character) but instead of becoming a beacon of hope for Earth, he gives into his powers and becomes a menace.
Wrapped in the veil of a supervillain origin story, Brightburn tells the story of Brandon Breyer (Jackson A. Dunn), a young boy found by parents Tori (Elizabeth Banks) and Kyle (David Denman) who raise him as their own after finding him in a spaceship outside their home in Brightburn, Kansas.
The film goes full horror really early. It has a way of tensing you up via jump scares and plenty of gore. There’s a scene where a woman pulls a piece of glass out of her eye that made even me wince a little bit…and I watch pimple popping videos for fun. Gross stuff never gets me, but that certainly did.
The best spots in this film are the performances and the editing. Banks and Denman really give it their all and have great chemistry. You really believe that they’re a couple so desperate for a baby that they’ll take in an alien child just to be parents. It’s this unwavering devotion, at least in Tori’s case, that bring about her downfall.
I mention the ending because of how good the end sequence is. Without spoilers I’ll just say that there’s a long tracking shot with a mix of flashing red light and pitch blackness over Elizabeth Banks that will have you on the edge of your seat.
There is a ton to love in Brightburn. It was a little rushed and Brandon’s motivation and struggle is never really shown, but the good outweighs the bad by far, unlike with Brandon himself. This is a really good superhero(?) horror movie, but I walked out wanting a little more. I think this concept would’ve worked a lot better as a miniseries, but alas, a movie appears to be all we will get. At least I thoroughly enjoyed what I did get to watch.