The arrival of the Brightburn trailers gave us clues that this was going to be a twisted Superman origin story but just how twisted would it be? With Sony involved you can never be quite sure how anything superhero related will turn out but this seemed more horror than hero. Could Sony mess that up too?
Brightburn dictates a slow pace early on and achieves a lot with it, beginning in 2006 when we meet Tori and Kyle Breyer (Elizabeth Banks and David Denman), a young couple living on a farm in Brightburn, Kansas (I’m assuming this is just up the road from Smallville), who are battling infertility problems to have a child. Then one night, just like the Kent’s up the road, a spaceship falls from the sky with a baby boy inside who they name Brandon (Jackson A. Dunn), They adopt him and raise him as their own and all is fine until Brandon hits puberty twelve years later and starts hearing strange voices in his head.
The pace slowly speeds up as we journey through Brandon’s puberty and experience barn doors, lawnmowers, forks, stalking, chickens, trust games, holding hands, and a bit of levitation. Through all this Kyle shares his fears that his son may not be normal, initially Tori denies this before letting confessing Brandon’s origins to him. Upon learning the truth Brandon goes crazy shouting as his parents for lying to him. This causes him great anger and through that anger the voices in his head finally make sense to him!
As well as the pace of the movie, the tone also plays a pivotal role especially in how it is used to show the Breyer’s and all they have been through with their infertility battles. This emphasises the unconditional love they have for Brandon and constructs an image of a loving caring home and family life that plays a very sharp contrast to what happens later in the movie. This love also later impacts on the Breyer’s as they try to work out what is happening to Brandon.
A lot of this movie hinges on Jackson A. Dunn as Brandon, and whilst it would have been nice to see a bit more of him pre-puberty, he still manages to convey a growing creepy detachment as his storyline develops. His Brandon can happily take his place alongside Freddy, Jason, Michael Myers, Chucky et al. His phone call to his mother later in the film more than solidifies that alongside his symbolic destruction and rejection of the loving environment he was raised in.
Verdict: 8 out of 10. Brightburn‘s greatest strength and weakness is the Superman mythos it is twisting. That whilst familiarising the audience with a concept also lets them guess what is coming next. By the end of the film though that concept is surpassed and if you stay tuned through the credits you will see like Split this film is part of a bigger universe that we may already of between introduced to back in 2010 with Super! How this universe develops will be an exciting thing to follow!