What if Clark Kent turned out to a brat with a God complex? Brightburn proposes a revisionist Superman story but doesn’t have the creativity to elevate this idea past an elevator pitch.
Brightburn does have interesting bits and pieces. It takes the familiar elements of Superman’s origins story and flips it over its head. It has better visual effects than your average genre flick and a similarly themed B-movie that I bet exists somewhere. The cast performances are great and Jackson Dunn does look the part (and hopefully doesn’t get typecast). All of these are in the trailer that makes you intrigued enough to watch it.
Once you delve into the movie however, the novelty wears out quickly. Brightburn fizzles out to the tune of derivative scares from evil-child horror and slasher flicks.
Precipitated by some vague reason Brandon goes Damien on the small town of Brightburn, Kansas. The script doesn’t provide any compelling characterization to subvert our expectations about superhero origin stories, despite it being the main selling point of the movie. Here, a childhood filled with unconditional and honest love is no match against the thing in the barn.
It seems that the question of nature vs nurture is too much so Brightburn chooses to entertain instead. This would have been forgivable if it weren’t for the repetitive jumpscares and derivative frights – window stalking, creepy stares, horrific drawings, gory kills, and evil voices.
Meanwhile, the parents become just like the dumb folks in horror movies who don’t leave a haunted house. Kyle says the obvious out loud as if the writers know what the viewers are thinking, but the plot trudges on anyway. Maybe if Brandon killed a dog Tori would have been convinced, but alas, Brightburn doesn’t have the gumption nor the creativity past doing Superman stuff but in a bad way.
Elizabeth Banks and the rest of the cast try their best to sell this movie. Unfortunately, there is little they can work with to make the tragic family scenes towards the end convincing.
Brightburn has a good idea and middling efforts that could satisfy those who don’t have any expectations. For the ones who want a riveting dark origins story, Thelma is a good place to start.
Brightburn is a one-trick pony filled with a derivative mix of an evil-child horror, slasher flick, and revisionist Superman story.