BRIGHTBURN – A Superman Origin Horror Story

The first time I saw the trailer for BRIGHTBURN I squealed with excitement – what an incredible idea, or more twist, on a done-to-death origin story. What if that little Superman orphan who crash landed on Earth wasn’t the hero we needed and was the opposite? What if he misinterpreted the messages from his space-pod thing? Or what if it was baby Zod instead of Kal-El? BRIGHTBURN explores this premise as a horror movie and it’s worth a viewing.

BRIGHTBURN is out now from Sony Pictures, it is rated MA15+ and runs for 91mins.

Brightburn Jackson A. Dunn image
Jackson A. Dunn

BY JASON KING

BRIGHTBURN OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS:

What if a child from another world crash-landed on Earth, but instead of becoming a hero to mankind, he proved to be something far more sinister?

With BRIGHTBURN, the visionary filmmaker of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, James Gunn, presents a startling, subversive take on a radical new genre: superhero horror. Possibly my new favourite genre that needs more entries!!

BRIGHTBURN is heavily influenced by the comic “Supreme Power” a Marvel take on the Justice League characters. In the comic, it also explores what would happen if Superman didn’t have such high morals as a kid as well as an adult.

Brightburn Elizabeth Banks image
Elizabeth Banks

WINS ON HORROR, LOSES ON PREDICTABILITY AND SQUANDERED POTENTIAL:

OK, is it good? Yes! BRIGHTBURN works incredibly well as a horror movie with gory death scenes so brutal that two of them will never leave my mind, like ever! A scene with an eye and a scene with a jaw – that is all you need to know hahaha.

Sadly though the similarity to the Superman story is so similar and it didn’t get the chance to explore more than the farm in which he is raised. Besides the over the credits scenes BRIGHTBURN never left the small farmtown. I need a sequel to this because the potential is endless. This kid is the anti-Superman with all the powers.

I loved the horror aspect, it is not just gratuitous violence, it is angry teenager, who has just hit puberty, been told evil things in his sleep by his alien spaceship and has just found out he is an actual alien with super powers that are off the chart anger. Puberty, confusion, alien superpowers and a kind of teenage mentality basically moulds into a rage and his interpretation of his spaceship is “take the planet,” what if it actually was “save the planet” and the kid can’t understand the Alien language fully – stupid kid fucked up and Earth will pay for it, starting with his little town and anyone who pisses him off.

THE ENTIRE PLOT IS IN THE TRAILER:

The downside is I knew the entire plot from the trailer and besides the gore violence nothing was a surprise. And I failed to see how such an innocent kid became so evil so quickly. Innocence and smiles one day, slaughtering people the next. If he was trying to fight an evil power overtaking him with an internal struggle ala VENOM this could have had more depth but it maintained its limited dimension.

Brightburn Jackson A. Dunn image
Jackson A. Dunn

SOME GREAT CASTING IN BRIGHTBURN – BANKS IS A GODDESS:

The casting ticks all the boxes. The ease at which Elizabeth Banks acts is a godsend as always. I truly love anything this woman does, her acting is so natural and works well as the mother to Super-Brat. Jackson A. Dunn is a wonderful little antichrist who can fly and has laser eyes. You may recognise him, he was the young Scott Lang aka ANT-MAN in AVENGERS: ENDGAME. His delivery is wonderful, an anti-hero psychopath – any actors dream role haha.

David Denman was wonderful as the country father trying to do his best – I got a great family chemistry from all of them together. Just a pity their adopted kid was a psycho murder machine. I also liked the aunty and uncle, Meredith Hagner and Matt Jones, the resemblance as relatives worked really well and I would like to see Hagner in more.

Fun Fact: BRIGHTBURN husband and wife duo Banks and Denman are both in the 2017 POWER RANGERS movie.

Brightburn Elizabeth Banks image
Elizabeth Banks

IN CONCLUSION:

BRIGHTBURN is a fun horror movie with a super-anti-hero as the lead but it fails to utilise its potential with a psychopath who can fly anywhere and destroy anything. It is gory as all hell with fantastic performances. It’s good, it’s just not brilliant. A sequel would be good to see more development.

YOUR CRITIC:

Jason King owns, writes and edits Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. He is a movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict. He is a member of the Australian Film Critics Association and has been in the Australian movie industry for 26yrs. Furthermore he loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan. 

** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher. Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.