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Saturday, June 1, 2019

Review: Brightburn

Director: David Yarovesky
Screenplay: Brian Gunn and Mark Gunn
Year: 2019

Synopsis: A child from another planet arrives on Earth, where a couple adopts him as their son. Once he reaches puberty, he starts to discover his powers and understands that his mission on Earth is not to save humanity, but the whole contrary.

With the wave… I mean tsunami of superhero movies we have had in recent years, it was a matter of time before they started to leak towards horror cinema. “Brightburn” is a story inspired in the popular superhero Superman, but with a dark twist in the often-told story.

The plot sees a couple that has been trying to have children for quite some time without success until a spaceship falls from the sky in which they find a boy. Kyle and Tori take care of the boy as if it was his own son until a day comes in which he decides to unleash into humanity a fury that no one knows where it came from. You know, puberty and hormonal changes can suppress our Clark Kent and make appear the Bizarro that lives in us.

The first half of the movie sets to develop the relationships of our little Clark Kent, Brandon, with the people that surround him. We see how Kyle and Torri treat him like his son and that there is a good relationship between them. On the other hand, we see how Brandon faces issues fitting in his school and he is a bullying victim. Intertwined in this development is when Brandon starts to discover the powers inside him. Once Brandon is fed up with the bullying, he decides to use his powers and the psychopath that lives in them to harm everyone he damn pleases, and this is the main problem of the movie.

There is nothing in the movie that justifies this abrupt change in Brandon’s behavior. Of course, he was bullied, but nothing that is presented as bullying acts justifies that he becomes a super powerful psychopath. Also, we need to consider the fact that Brandon is from another planet and the forces that call him could be the cause of this change, but this is not developed well, and much is left for speculation. He and his parents are presented aa a beautiful and united family, which has its emotional implications one Brandon revels, but it is detrimental in understanding the reason for his change.

While most of the cast does a great job, in particular, David Denman ("The Office") and Elizabeth Banks ("The Hunger Games") as the parents Kyle and Tori, Brandon’s character is very frustrating. Besides the issues with the development in the script of Brian and Mark Gunn ("Journey 2: The Mysterious Island"), Brandon, interpreted by Jackson A. Dunn (“Avengers: Endgame”) has the charisma of a white paper. It seems like the novice director David Yarovesky ("The Hive") was looking for inexistent body language and expressions from Brandon and manages that his most menacing look is with a mask on his face. This ends up being determinant in how the viewer receives the chaotic metamorphosis of an adorable child into a bloodthirsty supervillain.

Once our supervillain starts his rampage, the movie becomes unexpectedly graphic and violent. While the first half makes use of cheap ineffective jump scares, the second half turns very dark and graphic. The practical and digital effects are impressively well done and create impactful images. It is worth bringing up that this movie did not have an ample budget, which gives even more merit to the visual quality in which these scenes are presented.

Even when I would have liked that some other aspects of the story of this character, based on one of the most popular superheroes there is would have been better developed, I must say that I enjoyed “Brightburn”. I liked that dark and bloody tone that we seldom see in a superhero or supervillain and that it piggybacked on the popularity of superhero movies to explore one of these characters in foreign terrain. If not being for many things being superficially developed in the plot, this would be an iconic movie in the horror movie genre.

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