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Brightburn Review: Chunky, entertaining supervillain horror

Elizabeth Banks is the equivalent to Ma Kent in superhero horror film Brightburn.
Photo: Sony Pictures
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The Greatest Compliment I Can Do Brightburn is that at the end I would have gone straight through a sequel. It is a film that combines two popular genres to create a scenario and a world that are fascinating and terrifying. They want to know more about them immediately. Unfortunately, all this is scattered to the brink of a poorly told story.

Directed by David Yarovesky, produced by James Gunn, and written by Brian and Mark Gunn (brother and cousin of James), Brightburn is the kind of film that everyone says he does she wants nowadays. A top-class, original idea that asks more questions than answers and gives rise to discussions when leaving the theater. A film that turns a familiar story upside down and places it in an unfamiliar genre. That sounds very good in the concept.

The familiar idea is the origin of Superman. That said, a Kansas couple is shocked when an alien vehicle crashes on their farm and finds a baby inside that they raise themselves. This is the classic Clark Kent story of DC Comics and just how Tori and Kyle Breyer (Elizabeth Banks and David Denman) come to a son named Brandon (Jackson A. Dunn). And just like Superman, the Breyers Brandon tell nothing of his true nature until he realizes, as a teenager, that he is different. Of course, things deviate from the popular superhero here. Wherever Superman wanted to use his powers to save the world, Brandon goes in the opposite direction. For some reason, he knows he has to conquer the world.

Jackson A. Dunn is the antagonist of Brightburn.
Photo: Sony Pictures

At this time, Brightburn could have been simply a super-villain making history. And that is undoubtedly. But the Gunns decide to tell that through the horror genre, which feels quite innovative and works incredibly well. As Brandon begins to discover what he can do and become more ambitious with his goals, he makes his victims a prey. He stalks her, sets her up and almost immerses herself in her individual psychologies before he kills her – which is appropriately scary and unbelievably bloody. Yarovesky uses all the tricks of the horror film business to inflate these scenes in the hope that you will jump from your place or writhe in it, whether it's a well-timed jump or a figure slowly taking a piece of her glass removes eyeball.

While all this works conceptually, the execution is painfully lacking. Brightburn drags his story out to an almost annoying degree. The exhibition has emanated like a locked tap. Anxiety scenes take a few minutes too long, as if they just wanted to fill the time. Characters are unnecessarily stupid just to solve the puzzle. It's one of those movies where the whole story would have looked different if someday a character had just said the obvious or put two things together. But no.

Instead, Brandon's mother Tori continues to lie about her son, although evidence of his misconduct is piling up. Or the policeman takes a little too long to see the connection between the killings. Or Brandon always speaks of a bond with his parents, in radical opposition to his actions. Much of the story's details get incredibly frustrating, especially because the elements she plays with are so exciting.

If you see a child dressed, walk away on a street as fast as you can.
Photo: Sony Pictures

Then these problems trickle down. For example, if you are frustrated at the story level with Brandon's parents, it is difficult to sympathize with or win over them when they discover the truth. And as the number of bodies of Brandon steadily increases at the same time, Brightburn remains without a strong point of view. There is no one to follow or cheer on. So you see the movie as a passive observer instead of a more active participant. Sure, it's fun to just watch the story, but without an emotional attachment to the characters, it's easy for many to feel trivial. Even so, although much of Brightburn's story is clunky, the payouts and revelations are rather satisfying. Yarovesky's preference for Gore is scary in and of itself, and some of the deciding characters come close to making up for their past idiocy, especially late in the movie. Dunn does not exactly like Brandon as scary, but rather with an "Aw shucks, who me?" – attitude, which is sometimes almost scary. Banks and Denman play "We found an alien baby in the forest, just pretend we adopted it". Both are well aware that they are shooting a super villain horror movie and tuning their performances accordingly to the Schlock. If Gunn Brightburn had staged instead of Yarovesky, you would have had the feeling of having a more experienced touch it all works a bit better. Oh, Brightburn is a competent movie that's made up of incredible ideas. It's rude, interesting, scary and has a fascinating mythology. All this would be much better if almost everything had not been delivered so dull. Still, this is a story worth telling with characters we would like to see again. Perhaps next time, however, more emphasis will be placed on the story's presentation.

Brightburn opens Thursday night.

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