Director: David Yarovesky
Cast: Elizabeth Banks, David Denman, Jackson A. Dunn, Matt Jones, Meredith Hagner
Runtime: 1 hr 31 mins
Rating: NC16 (Some Intense Sequences)
Released By: Sony Pictures
Opening Day: 9 May 2019
Synopsis: 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 world has enough superheroes from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the DC Extended Universe. Do we need another being that can fly and shoot laser from his eyes? Apparently so, according to the folks who greenlit this movie production.
After an alien baby lands on Earth, a childless couple adopts him, names him Brandon Breyer and watches him grow up like a normal kid. After a sequence of events, you realise that there is a dark side to this boy. He is capable of doing unimaginable things with his mysterious powers, including murdering others in the most gruesome manner. People who offend him die horribly, and all hell breaks loose when his emotions go out of control.
Evil Superman, anyone? The elements are uncannily similar. There is a crashed spaceship containing a baby. He grows up being able to fly and fire off laser beams from his eyes. The twist here is that instead of becoming everyone’s hero, things take a very, very dark turn.
This horror thriller is directed by David Yarovesky and more notably, produced by James Gunn, the man behind Guardians of the Galaxy and its sequel. With Gunn’s brother Brian and cousin Mark penning the script, this feels very much like a passion project.
The star of the movie is undoubtedly Jackson A Dunn, who plays the main character. His calm and somewhat disturbing expression will send chills down your spine. He convinces you that Brandon Breyer is in a conflicted position between being a normal boy and a scary villain. Dunn isn’t a stranger to the superhero genre – he played a 12 year old Scott Lang in Avengers: Endgame.
The brutal deaths caused by Brandon Breyer are bloody and disgusting: a woman pulls a glass shard out of her eye, while a man’s jaw drops off his mangled face. You will squirm in your seats, and hope that no one else will piss this kid off.
Elsewhere, adult actors Elizabeth Banks (The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part) and David Denman (13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi) play the infertile couple who thought that they received a gift from the skies when the baby appeared in their backyard. As the film progresses, you realise even the people who brought up Brandon Breyer are not going to be spared from his extreme emotions and violence.
With a very agreeable runtime of 91 minutes, there is a sad tale in this movie. A kid is bullied by the people around him, and he begins using his powers to take revenge. The dark spin to a familiar superhero origin story is fresh, and will keep viewers glued to their seats. Can the boy still be good after causing chaos? Are the dire consequences reversible? The last sequence of the movie suggests that there is potential for a follow up instalment, and we are interested to find out how Brandon Breyer will make a mark in the somewhat congested world of superbeings.
(A much-needed dark spin on the familiar superhero genre, complete with some disturbingly gruesome scenes)
Review by John Li