Review: Brightburn

What if Superman didn’t want to help, but to take over? “Superhero horror” is not a genre that’s often seen in cinematic releases. We generally like to watch our powerful characters fight the bad guy, not be the bad guy. Even antiheroes like Deadpool and Venom have redeeming qualities that help us cheer for them. But Brightburn subverts that entirely, because the “superhero” in this movie causes nothing but pain and suffering and death for those around him.
Brandon Breyer is your modern-day Superman story…sort of. After his parents are unable to get pregnant, they find him crashing through their backyard in a meteorite and decide to adopt him and keep everything secret. That is, until Brandon’s 12th birthday when things about him start to change. He’s increasingly detached, angry, and has violent outbursts, and to top it all off he is hearing voices. Not a good sign for any 12-year-old, but especially not for a 12-year-old with super powers. As he begins to realize what he can do, and as friends and family continue to let him down, he is drawn toward using his powers in vengeful and sadistic ways.
I enjoyed this movie, but also had some issues with it. Surprisingly, although this film has the Gunn family name all over it (written by Brian and Mark Gunn, produced by James Gunn), it remains consistently serious and grim throughout. The lack of humor helps to set and keep the tone in horror but can also cause a movie to feel longer than it actually is, and I think some laughs would have helped in this movie. Unfortunately, the characters had almost zero depth. Brandon’s early life is skimmed over in flashbacks and he is thrown immediately into a school setting without setting up any character relationships. The seclusion of the story helps to keep the action more contained and the movie feeling more down-to-earth, but the seclusion of the characters really work against the good thing they had going. The movie also plays on the “oblivious parents” trope a little too much…knowing they rescued an alien baby, they should have been just a bit more cautious when crazy things started happening around them.
For the problems Brightburn has, it’s still an odd recommendation from me…but just barely. If you’ve seen the trailers, it doesn’t stray too far from what you would be wanting to see. Horror and superhero fans alike might find it a little boring for them because it fails to lean one way or the other too much, but I think it was a solid effort. If the genre opens up, I think we could see more films similar to this one but also watch the quality increase too. It didn’t go over-the-top with the R rating, but there was a decent amount of violence and gore. And I don’t have too much else to say about this movie…this might be my shortest review yet…well, in other news, I have a ticket for Aladdin tonight and will likely be seeing Olivia Wilde’s (The O.C. and House) directorial debut Booksmart over the Memorial Day weekend too, since I have heard nothing but good things about it so far. Movies movies movies! So stay posted, and I hope you have some nice weather and time to spend with friends and family this weekend. Cheers!

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