Film Review: Brightburn

10:35 May 30, 2019
By: David Vicari

Brightburn is essentially evil Superman. In fact, I am willing to bet that cousins and screenwriting team Brian and Mark Gunn attended a film retrospective of director Richard Donner where they got the idea to combine Superman: The Movie (1978) with The Omen (1976). And that is fine. The idea could have worked, but Brightburn plays like a cheap slasher film.

A small spaceship crashes in the sleepy town of Brightburn, Kansas and childless couple Tori and Kyle Breyer (Elizabeth Banks and David Denman) find a living, unharmed infant in the wreckage. They keep the child as their adopted son. Cut to 12-years later and the boy, Brandon (Jackson A. Dunn), begins to show signs of being - oh, I don't know - a psychopath! He also finds that he has super powers like flight, speed and the ability to shoot heat rays out of his eyes. Everything a growing boy needs to take over the world.

The first problem with Brightburn is that it is astoundingly predictable. Now, many horror movies are predictable but work because they are fun and well made. This film is dreary, humorless and moves with the urgency of a sloth.

The characters of the parents are incredibly dumb and make every mistake in the horror movie checklist. Plus, the kid is a creep and there are far too many close up shots of him giving someone an evil stare.

Now, I like blood and gore as much as the next guy, but the extreme cruelty here leaves a bad taste. In an effectively squirmy scene, one poor character gets a shard of glass in her eye, and we see her trying to remove it in extreme close up. Eat your heart out, Lucio Fulci.

Brandon also terrorizes a female classmate, and this subplot further emphasizes a misogynistic thread running through director David Yarovesky's movie. An actual good movie that turns the comic book superhero genre on its ear with the main character using his powers for evil instead of good is 2012's Chronicle. Check that one out instead.

*½ stars (out of four)

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