Saturday, May 25, 2019

Brightburn - Review

With an increasing number of superhero films out with each passing year, experimentation with the sub-genre was bound to happen. Horror seems like the next logical step to attempt to integrate into the superhero world. And what better way to do that than with the inverse of the superhero that started it all, Superman, just with some add gore and violence.

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 and Slither presents a startling, subversive take on a radical new genre: superhero horror.

The concept of taking the classic Superman origin story and flipping it in the opposite direction is a fascinating one on paper. However, in action, the film doesn’t explore anything beyond the baseline idea of a powered pre-teen using his abilities for evil rather than justice. Its interesting setup is abandoned for a run of the mill, B-movie level, horror monster that zooms by a little quicker than the average slasher.

The story is entirely devoid of anything to make it stand out as different, and if anything, completely falters under the pressure of balancing various tones in its attempts to emulate superhero stories. The only saving grace is actually casting a kid who can pull off the creepy, horror kid vibe when they need him to. As far as creepy characters go, Brandon Breyer, played by Jackson A. Dunn, at least meets that criteria.

The film is not all bad, it just isn’t very much good either. Some of the violence is brutal to the highest degree, and the effects involved in said kills are solid as well. From a visual standpoint, Brandon’s look is pretty terrifying, and there are more than a few shots that feel directly pulled from Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel.

Even then, in praising the visual design of the film, there feels like a missed opportunity to delve deeper. The film often relies on the audience’s past knowledge to understand the tone it is going for, rather than putting the work in itself. It wants to give audiences a villain origin story, but provides no rhyme or reason for a turn outside of a brief instruction from the ship he arrived in.

Brightburn boasts a unique premise with some insane potential that it absolutely squanders. Some of the visuals themselves connect, but somewhere along the way it all starts to drag, leaving you curious about where this all ends, rather than how the film plans to get there. It isn’t a revelatory spin on the craze that is taking over Hollywood, it’s just basic, B-Movie horror, and that’s a super disappointment.


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