Directed by first-timer David Yarovesky, written by Mark and Brian Gunn (cousins of the most famous Gunn… James, of course), Brightburn is the first blockbuster/mainstream attempt to a combination of horror and superhero genre.
If you’ve seen the trailer, you’d know that the plot of Brightburn revolves around a child from another world who crash-landed on Earth, in the town of Brightburn, Kansas. He’s adopted by a couple (Elizabeth Banks and David Denman) but, when he turns 12, he starts to show a sinister behaviour: Brandon has super powers, but decides to use them to do evil things.
So, yeah: it’s the same story of Superman… just reversed.
Continue reading and check my final grade below…
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My review is also available on IMDb – Brightburn (2019)
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And this is my biggest problem with Brightburn: knowing what this movie is about equals having seen it. There’s no element of surprise to be found, as the story unfolds pretty much in the same way the story of Clark Kent does… just reversed. Admittedly, the concept is interesting, since before this flick we’ve only had one horror-superhero (kind of) crossover in Chronicle. However, the potential is somewhat wasted by the lack of any interesting development – both in terms of characters and story.
In fact, Brandon (played by Jackson Dunn) is raised by a very lovely couple, so it really doesn’t make sense for him to turn into a psychotic murderer just because some of his classmates bullied him. The first half of the movie, aside from a couple of very cool scenes, consists of fillers that don’t serve any purpose – other than some reincorporation that occurs in the end of this picture. It would’ve been so much better if, for example, the movie showed Brandon’s adoptive parents being abusive and mean to him: the audience would’ve sympathised more with Brandon and his character would’ve been given a solid motivation to act the way he does.
Yet, it doesn’t help that Dunn’s performance as Brandon is the worst in the whole of Brightburn. Whether is the actor or the director’s fault, he’s like a block of wood in the movie: he doesn’t emote, he doesn’t carry any scene, he isn’t scary nor sympathetic. Basically, he’s not even a character. He’s a prop!
Fortunately, every other performance in Brightburn is very solid. David Denman as the adoptive dad is fine, but his character is the most interesting and relatable in this picture; Elizabeth Banks is, honestly, great in this film. She plays against character, showcasing that she can pull off a role different from the usual slutty girl she portraits. Most of the other actors in the movie also did a decent job with the material they had to work with.
Although I highlighted the negative aspects of Brightburn in the first part of this article, once Brandon truly embraces his evilness the movie becomes quite entertaining and, at parts, even surprising.
For example, instead of relying on cheap jump-scares like the first half, the second part of Brightburn is all about entertaining action sequences and effective gore. This is movie that largely relies on CGI, but when it decides to go all-out gory, it does so by using fantastic makeup and practical effects. Seriously, I didn’t expect this movie to be so graphic and unflinching during certain sequences. And, to be fair, the CGI is also very good.
Even though the story is rather simplistic and uninteresting, this film makes up for that with multiple scenes that are truly tense and well-executed. My favourite sequence takes place during a “hunting trip” in the woods… look out for that one!
In conclusion, Brightburn is an entertaining and surprisingly violent horror film that most mainstream horror fans will likely appreciate. Unfortunately, the intriguing concept isn’t developed in any interesting way, presenting the audience with surface-level development of both characters and storyline. This is the kind of movie that frustrates me the most: all the ingredients to make a memorable picture were there, but either studios watered it down for mainstream audiences or the filmmakers were extremely lazy, winding up making an enjoyable horror flick that, however, will be forgotten in a couple of months.
Make sure NOT to leave the theatre before the end credits start rolling…
UPDATE: I just found out some useful information about Brightburn, which apparently had a measly $7,000,000 budget. Given that, my actual final grade for the movie is 7/10, since the great effects – both practical and computer-generated – are outstanding considering the limited budget.
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