Have you ever wondered what would have happened if Superman had been a bad guy? Brightburn is here to answer that question. When an alien ship crashes in the woods outside a Kansas farm, a young couple having problems with fertility “adopt” the baby boy occupying the ship. 12 years later, the boy starts to discover he’s different and has powers no one else does. Unfortunately his thirst for blood and violence overcomes him and he starts down an evil path.
First of all, I absolutely love that premise. It’s a great take on the Superman origin story we’ve all seen a half dozen times. And in reality, if an alien ship did crash on earth, chances are pretty good the superpowered being would use the powers for evil.
Unfortunately the movie doesn’t go any deeper than just the surface level idea of its premise. It could have been more of a commentary on the superhero genre, or at least done more to explain why this character is evil. As the movie is, he just is evil, rather than a series of events occurring that gradually turned him away from good. I just think it could have played with the morality aspect a bit more. The movie is only about 90 minutes long and easily could have added another 10 or 15 minutes to fully realize the character.
With that said, since the movie just sets out to be a superhero horror movie, if I look at it from just that prospective, it does a pretty good job. It delivers on a lot of scares. Most of these are jump scares, but it does a decent job of building suspense throughout. As a horror movie, I think it works well.
Perhaps my favorite aspect of the movie is the score. It actually plays on music from Superman movies, Man of Steel in particular, before weaving it into a much darker theme that matches the tone of this movie. It might come off as a rip off or maybe a little on the nose, but I felt like it was a clever and effective score.
The acting from the three main leads is solid. Elizabeth Banks and
Roy from The Office David Denman star as the equivalents of Ma and Pa Kent. Banks in particular is great in this one. Jackson Dunn plays the evil Superman and he does a pretty good job in one of his first leading roles.
One aspect of the movie I did feel like they went too far with is the violence and gore. I didn’t even know this movie had an R rating until I got to the theater. Nothing about it really needed that and it would have worked just as well as a more tame PG-13 movie. But the movie does get shockingly grotesque at certain times, and you should keep that in mind when heading out to see this.
Overall, Brightburn does what it sets out to do and is a fun take on the superhero genre. Few movies have managed to successfully weave horror into the genre and this one does it well. It isn’t perfect and I don’t know how much I’ll revisit it, but it is worth seeing.
Brightburn earns a Positive ROP.
Ratings from low to high: Felony, Misdemeanor, 10-4, Positive ROP, Golden Donut