Review: ‘Brightburn’ Dives into a New Genre and Hits Bottom

Elizabeth Banks stars in Sony PIctures’ BRIGHTBURN.
Courtesy of SONY Pictures.

Brightburn is a special effects make-up artist’s paradise. I imagine the director walking in the story board room and requesting the vilest images to be brought to life. In David Yarovesky’s latest project since Guardians of the Galaxy, you might expect a supernatural, adventure-filled, horror film—and you would be misled. Blasts of style and all-too haunting sound editing, or gurgling, can only carry a film for so long until you need a real plot.

This story reminisces on the potent displeasures found in The Odd Life of Timothy Green and to an extent, Chucky. As surely you’ve heard by now it is the “philosophy” that what if Superman came here to destroy us all instead. And what if? Superhero Horror? Nah. The depth of this concept was better reached in Jordan Peele’s US.

For years now, producers have been redeeming the proverbial antagonist or rather allowing them to redeem themselves through growth and reflection. Think Maleficent, Mega Mind, Darth Vader, Terminator, Scrooge, etc. Characters movie goes witness and connects with who transcend through a cause/effect discovery, then epiphany, a change, and a where-are-you-going-where-have-you-been theme. It carries an interest factor. But apparently we are not in Kansas anymore Toto, actually, we ARE in Kansas, in Brightburn, and it’s an eerie place.

The actors definitely are not to blame, each giving a captivating performance. Jackson Dunn as Brandon Breyer, David Denman as his father, and Elizabeth Banks (which is the best and most refreshing element of the production) as Brandon’s compassionate, sincere, and entertaining characterization of the mother who turns a blind eye for too long and suffers the consequences. Most of its scene work and actors glue the film together making it tolerable.

Courtesy of SONY Pictures.

But the drive of a robotic killing son just feels … flat. Brightburn’s biggest tease is we feel on a verge that something amazing is always about to happen, and never does. Besides guts. That happens. Blood guts and slaughter, which are delivered abundantly.