I’ve always thought that a horror superhero film would be great to see. From the right point of view, witnessing an overpowered being cutting loose could be a terrifying experience. Could Brightburn be that movie?
An infertile couple comes across an alien baby that they raise as their own, and on the young boy’s twelfth birthday, things start to change in him. Not just your standard adolescent transformations, Brandon develops powers: super strength, laser vision, flight. But instead of becoming the hero that you would expect, he uses these powers to terrorise his hometown, and potentially the world.
I love the premise: a Superman what if. What if a super-powered being used his talents for evil? And it makes sense to base it around a teenager. The kid is trying to figure out who he is as a person, and feelings are rising inside him that he doesn’t fully understand. Add to it the fact that he is picked on at school, and that the mix of power and anger is never a good thing. Now these themes are touched on in Brightburn, but not as much as I would have liked. This teen anger is eventually what drives Brandon to do some horrific things, but some of the reasons for that anger could’ve been stronger.
It is good fun once Brandon starts going crazy, but the horror scenes are shot in a fairly cliché fashion, that saps all tension out. Accompanied by some random, over-the-top gore sequences, it all felt a bit clunky.
What does save the film, are it’s great performances. Elizabeth Banks and David Denman are excellent as Brandon’s parents, and the boy himself (played by Jackson A. Dunn) is channelling some Jofferey Baratheon of Game of Thrones fame. His pissed off face, is one you would just love to punch.
Overall, Brightburn is a great concept that just isn’t executed well. The most frustrating thing is you can see all the pieces are there to provide a solid narrative, but they don’t see things through and the weak motives of characters effectively leave us with what is a pretty hollow film going experience.
2.5 out of 5 stars – A Flawed Watch