James Gunn, uh I mean, David Yarovesky directs Brightburn, a superhero-themed horror film produced by Gunn and Kenneth Huang. It was made during Gunn’s banishment from polite society following the re-release of horrifying tweets involving children, ironically enough. No matter, he is back to making films after his apology.
Kyle Breyer (David Denman) and his wife Tori (Elizabeth Banks) find a baby in a strange alien-like pod in the small town of Brightburn and adopt him as their own, keeping the secret of his origins. Things change when the child, named Brandon (Jackson A. Dunn), turns twelve. The pod, hidden in the barn, begins calling out to him and he begins to experience violent tendencies. Brandon begins stalking a young girl named Caitlyn (Emmie Hunter) and people who stand his way, including his Uncle Noah (Matt Jones), begin to get hurt, disappear, or die.
I would like to praise all the actors and actresses in the film. Banks and Dunn especially pulled in top-notch in their roles, but the praise for the supporting cast cannot be understated. They provided chills, laughs, and tension when it was needed.
Its similarities to Superman are numerous. Childless parents find child in a space pod. He grows up in a fictional town in Kansas and develops powers, but instead of seeking truth, justice, and the American way, he is pure evil. After that, the movie becomes more like a rural version of Mark Waid’s Irredeemable than Man of Steel.
As a horror film, it definitely provided some actual scares. The terrifying look at a child with Superman powers who turns evil was portrayed with excellence. From scenes of glowing red eyes to background shadows from a floating stalker, it genuinely makes your skin crawl. There were a few scenes that were paced poorly, such as the uncle’s standoff with Brandon, making the suspense fade.
The main problem is with the message in the film. Now, I am not one who searches for hidden icons in movies. Go back and read my reviews and this will become apparent. That being said, this horror feature is loaded with politically correct metaphors on toxic masculinity. I am not reading something that is not there, the film is obvious about it.
The transition to evil begins when Brandon hits puberty, in other words as he transitions into manhood. Interesting. His mother is always trying to give him sage advice, but he ignores it and takes his father’s poor advice about acting on his “urges” a little too far as he stalks a girl in his class. Mom is loving and wise, dad is tough (but fair), sometimes paranoid, and thinks with his genitalia and guns. Like I said, obvious.
As for the girl, she calls him a perv after she catches him at her window and he answers back, “liar,” to the agreement of his male teacher until he breaks her hand. Clearly, a metaphor for the patriarchy standing up for the “good boy.” When he tells the girl that she’s one of the few that knows he’s “special,” she is writing a paper on “truth and justice” in a social sense. Another play on Superman, but the message is clear. The boy with powers equals “bad” while the girl writing about social justice equals “good.” In these politically charged times, it pays to walk the line, even if you’re as a talented filmmaker as James Gunn.
Bottom line, while the asinine political messaging of toxic masculinity is obvious in Brightburn, it does not drown out the genuinely scary look at a “Superman gone wrong” scenario that produces some truly chilling moments of horror.
PARENT CONCERNS: Violence, Gore, Sexual Content, Strong Foul language
FAVORITE QUOTE: Take. Take. “Yychhagaro” means “take.”
Check out the trailer below:
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below. Tell me if there is a comic book, movie, or novel you would like me to review. While you are at it, check out my movie reviews of How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World and Godzilla: King Of The Monsters. Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe for more posts like this one.