HOLLYWOOD—When was the last time you saw the superhero genre turned upside down on its head? Yeah, think about that one for a minute. A new genre has been dropped on audiences in the realm of superhero horror, I would almost compare it slightly to the CW series “Supernatural,” but even that flick doesn’t dive as deep as the film “Brightburn.”
Yes, if you’re thinking this flick is about a superhero, you would be right, but it’s not the superhero we want. Why? It’s like Superman meets Michael Myers. A human alien from another planet who has superpowers, but instead of utilizing those powers for good, our title character uses them for evil. I swear I thought I had echoes of the origin tale of Superman watching this movie. Spaceship crashes on a farm of a couple who have been struggling to have a child. They adopt the child and as the child gets older he begins to realize that he is not like everyone else.
That villainous child, Brandon is portrayed by Jackson A. Dunn. Dunn toes a terrific job in this twisted role where his level of violence only intensifies as the movie’s narrative moves along. It starts off minor, it gradually increases and before you know it Brandon is doing things you could never imagine and it leaves you speechless to a degree.
His parents Kyle (David Denman) and Tori Breyer (Elizabeth Banks) are at weird odds. I felt slight tones of the 1967 classic “The Omen” watching the movie. Kyle senses something is off with his son, whereas Tori dismisses it as a boy simply being a boy. A broken hand here, an unexplained death, violent outbursts; they are all signs America and you should heed them when you see them transpire.
James Gunn, the same guy who helmed the horror classic “Slither” takes on directorial duties here and brings something fresh, exciting, but at the same time very disturbing to the audience. I mean we always imagine our heroes who come from another planet using their powers for good, but what if, they decided to do the opposite? Yeah, we have a formidable opponent, one who might not be easily eliminated.
I will admit the level of violence in the flick was a bit much for my liking; I mean I’m a horror buff and though the flicks from the 80s and 90s were violent, but this one takes the cake slightly. Where it balances itself off is the level of camp that “Brightburn” brings to the table in the process. This movie is not predictable and that is what makes it so much fun to watch as you see how things unfold.
You have an idea of where the story might go, but then it takes a sharp left turn. Characters that you expect to survive, don’t make it to the end and it really makes you question that ‘what if’ and ‘what else’ notion that exists in the galaxy. Could I see “Brightburn” spawning other flicks in this new genre as I’d like to call it? Possibly, but it requires a distinct level of storytelling that has to appear plausible without being too over-the-top.