Synopsis – What if a child from another world crash-landed on Earth, but instead of becoming a hero to mankind, he proved to be something far more sinister?
My Take – While fans all over the world continue to celebrate the massive success of Marvel Studios‘s Avengers: Endgame, a modestly budgeted $7 million dollar film released last weekend in the U.A.E cinemas which a puts a spin on the origin story of the world’s arguably most oldest and most popular superheroes.
Send by his biological parents from the dying planet of Krypton to Earth, since infancy, Kal-El aka Clark Kent is immediately adopted by a farmer couple on Earth, and goes onto to become the world’s most trusted savior. However, what if he never remained the old school boy scout? What if by the age of 12, he is convinced that he is superior to everyone as soon as he realizes his physical strength? What if he turns out to be quite deranged regarding his approach to everything?
In simple terms, here, in this James Gunn produced and David Yarovesky (The Hive) directed film, writers Brian and Mark Gunn strip Superman of his core elements, and merge him with antagonists of films like Chronicle (2012). However, those expecting to watch a darker and grimmer version of the story of the extraterrestrial boy of wonder, with a tragic twist, are going to be disappointed.
There is no warped sense of justice or a tragedy here or a reluctant descent of a hero into a villain, instead this is a story of sociopath, who unleashed evil on everyone around him unhinged, in cookie cutter horror film format. For better or worse, it’s exactly what the film is advertised as, and may not be an exceptionally good movie, but it may well be the pioneer to a different aspect of the science-fiction/superheroes movies that can be explored and brought to the screens.
The story follows Tori Breyer (Elizabeth Banks), who along with her husband, Kyle Breyer (David Denman), a farmer, has been trying to get pregnant for some time now, with dismaying results. However, their life changes when a flying object crash lands in the middle of the woods, containing a baby boy. Considering this to be a miracle, the couple adopt him, and name him Brandon.
Years pass without any form of complications that is until Brandon (Jackson A. Dunn) turns 12, and begins to face changes that are not common in a pubescent boy´s life. Having developed supernatural powers and bright red eyes, he starts hearing voices trying to tell him something.
What begins with sleepwalking and biting on a fork ends with a brutally murdered chicken and an injured classmate. Everyone upsetting Brandon or putting obstacles in his way gets eliminated, even if they are his own family members. After making out the truth about his origin, Brandon´s power and anger reaches a maximum point.
Dressed up like a superhero wearing a dark cape and patched mask, his bright red eyes are strong like a laser. He gets into mischief everywhere he goes and leaves his symbol behind, making Tori and Kyle realize that their son has indeed come to this world with sinister intentions.
This film is probably the most realistic scenario of how it would be if there were super humans who landed on Earth. Without responsibility and good lessons on manners, the superhuman man can act arbitrarily and kill anyone he doesn’t like. Especially if the supermen turns out to be evil from birth! In this age where superheroes movies almost completely reign unchallenged in the science-fiction genre, the film brings a fresh wind to the film industry.
Is the idea behind this movie original and new? No, it is not, but given the dominant trend of superhero films in the realm of cinema, the film’s presence brings its own fresh air and can be an antidote watched all films smell of superheroes. And while it uses a simple, typical, clichéd horror formula and plot structure, it allows time for the characters to develop in its first half and that make us care enough about them.
Although it is thick with superhero elements and comics, it should be emphasized that this is a true horror film and, it feels like that was indeed the creator’s team here. Whether it’s through the story line approach, packaging scenes per scene, stripping the conflict layer, and also the level of scary scenes.
Here, no amount of brakes are places on presenting the visual scenes of violence and gore, hence some of the scares are effective. The characters and the kill victims here are also not as annoyingly dumb as they usually are in horror flicks.
And even then, well, if Superman is a murderous psychopath, you’d be powerless and all you could hope for is a quick death. It also feels like the film has an underlying message about parenting — sometimes even when parents have done all the right things and have gave all the love in the world to their children, if their kids are screwed up, there’s nothing much they could do to change that. They’re just screwed up. There are also some moments that are darkly humorous and the cinematography, considering its budget, is quite excellent.
However, the execution leaves a lot to be desired. The film tries to be a unique origin story of a super villain that encompasses elements of horror and gory flicks in it. Unfortunately, these elements fall flat within its plot, which is a shame considering how much more could have been explored beyond the point of the origin story and the powers he possess. Like I mentioned above, it’s as straightforward as you can see from its trailer, with no surprise elements left to throw your way in its 90 minute run time.
While the performances of Elizabeth Banks and David Denman are adequate as one could expect, as well as Matt Jones and Meredith Hagner in supporting roles, the film belongs to Jackson A. Dunn who manages to put up a performance that’s both innocent and menacing. His calm, almost beatific expression provides a strong counterpoint to the deeds he commits and Dunn brings just the right level of conflict and complexity to the role, convincing the viewer that he is indeed a volatile and scary figure without overplaying the part or acting too detached. On the whole, ‘Brightburn’ is a decent horror film that twists the superhero genre into something both terrifying and gruesome.
Directed – David Yarovesky
Rated – R
Run Time – 90 minutes