Movie ReviewsBrightburn – An Original Superhero Horror Film

Keith NoakesMay 24, 201975/100
Elizabeth Banks, David Denman, Jackson A. Dunn
Brian Gunn, Mark Gunn
David Yarovesky
14A (Canada), R (United States)
Running Time
91 minutes
Release Date
May 24th, 2019
Overall Score
Rating Summary
Brightburn is an original and ambitious horror film with a superhero twist that can't quite tie its premise together with a deep enough story despite a trio of great lead performances.

We’ve all encountered a fair share of superhero films over the last decade, leaving some of us fatigued, but Brightburn hopes to turn the tides by taking the genre in a completely different direction. Everyone is more or less familiar with the story of Superman of what would happen if Superman turned evil? This film attempt to answer that question with terrifying results meanwhile balancing that with the usual superhero origin story. While the film stumbles in trying to do both, however, the premise is still undoubtedly intriguing, leading to a still entertaining horror experience. However, some will be left wanting more as the story that ties it all together is lacking in depth and the pacing wasn’t quite there either.

The story here was about an infertile couple named Tori (Banks) and Kyle Breyer (Denman) who on one fateful evening, come across a baby boy crash lands on their farm in some sort of an alien ship before taking possession of him and naming him Brandon. Now 12-years-old (Dunn), Brandon was no longer Tori and Kyle’s innocent little boy once questions about Brandon’s true origins began to surface (and maybe puberty). The Breyers were a normal, close-knit Midwestern family where Tori and Kyle did the best they could to raise Brandon, an intelligent boy who was bullied at school.

Trying to live a normal life was no longer as easy for Brandon once his origins conflicted with that life. The outcome of this was inevitable but the way could be too much of a slow burn for some and was awkward to watch while being weighed down by derivative story beats. Despite this, it was still engaging to watch though the film would get better once it started to embrace its horror elements a little more. Brandon’s true origin story was weak to nonexistent and watching him trying to reconcile both sides didn’t always work as his motivations weren’t always clear, however, he was still compelling to watch. This played against Tori and Kyle struggling with the truth about their son was somewhat compelling to watch but the rushed and often glossed-over family subplot lessened this.

Brightburn‘s horror elements were standard fare, mostly jump scares heightened by suspenseful music and inventive camerawork, but the superhero addition gave them a fresh feel. It is worth mentioning that this film won’t be for the faint of heart as it definitely earns its rating with plenty of graphic violence and gore. Considering the film’s lower budget, its special effects were surprisingly good (despite the shaky cam), including Brandon’s abilities and the resulting destruction he left in his wake. It was just a shame that we didn’t get enough of it. With a running time of 90 minutes, the film tries to pack a lot in there which would only lessen each individual element, lessening the whole film as a result.

Ultimately, the acting and the chemistry between the three leads was the best part of the film, making up for the film’s shortcomings. Banks was great as Tori Breyer, the emotional center of the film. She was a believable mother who held on to her love of her child until the end when the inevitable truth destroyed her. Denman was also great as Kyle Breyer who arguably saw things more clearly than Tori but still loved his wife. Dunn was impressive and brought on the creepy as Brandon Breyer though, either because of his performance and/or the script, couldn’t quite handle the dual nature of the character.

Either way, stay tuned to the end for a special surprise. Hopefully superhero horror films are here to stay.

*still courtesy of Sony Pictures Entertainment*

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