BY TAPPING :
What if Superman ended up being a bad guy? It's a simple premise, and it's even been done in comic books in the past, but it's a premise that makes my ears perk up and immediately makes me think of the gruesome possibilities. Luckily, Brightburn is here to make those possibilities a reality with a hard R rating and James Gunn producing. Sadly, a low budget keeps it from being the horror superhero movie that I was really hoping for.
Brightburn is directed by David Yarovesky, who's directed a lot of James Gunn related material in the past. Mainly promotional videos including the really entertaining Inferno music video for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. His only other feature-length film is a horror movie called The Hive, which I've personally never seen, but he's not a newcomer when it comes to the genre. For the most part, he does a decent job balancing the dark superhero horror stuff with a more realistic setting and characters than movies like Superman had. The horror scenes are where the movie really shines, as they are directed with legitimate tension and don't rely on constant, loud jump scares to get a fright out of you. It's also a very brutal film, but Yarovesky shies away from the violence being too glorified. The gore is there to show you what this child can do, and the realistic consequences of having a being like this living in our world.
Evil Superman. That's all I need to say. It's exactly what you think it will be but with less of a budget, meaning less of the Superman and more of the "evil child in a horror movie" trope that we've seen countless times. It's pretty much The Prodigy if the kid could fly and had super strength. So much so that you even have the mother character that keeps insisting that her child is "good" and "kind" for half the movie, which is understandable but annoying. I do, however, really enjoy the ending that sets up a series of sequels that sound like a blast! Nothing too original here, but it didn't need to be. It just needed to be the story of Superman but flipped on its head, and it's done well.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
A small but talented cast do great work with their underdeveloped and lackluster characters. It's a shame because I could see this being a really good 2-hour film, but the movie decided to keep its runtime brief at around 85 minutes and to cut all of the development and get right into the mayhem. Elizabeth Banks is the most likable because she plays the mom that believes her adopted alien boy is good even though we as an audience just saw him gut a person. I actually felt for her because that relationship is believable at the beginning of the movie when little Brandon isn't flying around flipping cars over and crashing through buildings. Speaking of Brandon, Jackson A. Dunn is suitably creepy as the evil Superboy, but I found his character to turn evil too quickly. This is another problem caused from the runtime I'm sure, but his turn felt flat and almost like the movie was getting bored of itself so it decided that this is the time for the violence to start ramping up. The rest of the cast are there just to be fodder to Brandon's bloodlust, but they do respectable work nonetheless.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
This is a typical horror score with plenty of creepy stringed instruments and tension building flourishes. It's effective for sure and suitably spooky, but I would've enjoyed it better if it dipped a little more into the superhero aspect. Like the movie, it's focused more on the horror side, which is a shame considering the potential for something more original. The sound design, however, is a great mixture of the horror and superhero genres that I wanted. You have the breaking bones, blood gushing, and gore sounds that you'd expect from a horror film and the whooshes, laser eye beams, and destruction that we've come to expect from a superhero film. So, in that aspect, the movie does deliver on what it promises and mixes the genres well.
I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of practical makeup and effects that were used for the grotesque & very violent death scenes in the film. You get disembowelment, jaws being ripped off, glass in the eye, etc. and all of it looks terrifically disturbing. Not only that, but the special effects, for such a small budgeted movie, were excellent. Brandon flying around, destroying buildings, cars, appliances and what not were all perfectly handled and visually top notch. Only slight moments of awkward green screen bring down the otherwise impressive effects.
While Brightburn does have some excellent visuals and plenty of blood & gore, it does fail on truly delivering on the promise of its ingenious premise. It almost gets there but ends up having too little of the hero aspect and too much of the horror. Not that I didn't enjoy the horror, because I did, it's just not what I was looking for in this film. While Brightburn is an entertaining albeit tonally dark time at the theaters, it could've been so much more. I recommend just watching Chronicle again and waiting for this one to hit Redbox.