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Brightburn (2019) - Movie Review

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Brightburn (2019)

Creative writing courses talk about where that spark of an idea can come from, and how to nurture that possibility into something bigger. One of the catalysts most often encouraged is to pose a question. Writers Brian and Mark Gunn have most definitely asked a question in their creation of Brightburn.

What if Ma and Pa Kent took in their alien infant son and he turned out to be psychotic?

"with more character refinement this could have been a very different movie"

This hybrid science fiction/horror story wastes no time in taking something that is, on its surface, derivative, and goes for the throat. The trailers (although somewhat compelling) don’t venture out from that question. Does the film do that interesting premise go further than the trailers?

Tori and Kyle Breyer are a married couple in the middle of nowhere, trying desperately to have a child. One romantic evening, they are interrupted by the crash landing of a meteor/craft. Inside is a seemingly helpless infant boy. In the blink of an eye, the story jumps twelve years, and we see them and their ‘adopted’ son, Brandon, living the picture perfect life. Brandon, on the cusp of puberty, starts to display peculiar abilities and a radical shift in temperament. When the lad discovers what his parents have hid in the barn, shit goes real bad in their little sleepy hollow.

The premise itself is a solid one. That question is an interesting one to explore. This film’s execution is curtailed by its designs. They are categorically trying to world build straight off the bat. They pose questions throughout the film, they never answer. Motivations for what Brandon specifically is, and why he (all of a sudden) turns into a murderous elitist, hell bent of world domination. They deliberately skip entire swathes of the boy’s life and quickly steer this down a slasher film path. What could have been a compelling exploration of the motivations of all the people in Brandon’s life descends quickly into cheap, lamb to the slaughter moments.

The actors are pretty damn good, but with more character refinement this could have been a very different movie.

What does stand out is the production design. This film was made for 6 million dollars, so a tip of the cap to director David Yarovesky, and the visual effects team, because the film looks way more expensive than that. Also, being that the movie quickly becomes a horror picture, one has to give them credit for not pulling any punches when it comes to Brandon’s violence, and the damage someone with that kind of power can inflict. The only thing that struck me as cheap in this film was the script. Brightburn (2019)

You don’t get to explore these characters enough to make the huge gaps in details not undermine their actions. Brandon being bullied and isolated, the disconnect with his adopted father, the vessel he came to Earth in, his one sentence ‘mission statement’ (TAKE THE WORLD) – they’re all undercooked and lose their efficacy because of it. The fact that this movie clearly wants more entries to follow, as bluntly alluded to in its credits scenes (Marvel *cough), isn’t earned and was off-putting. It felt cynical and forced.

One word summation is: frustrating. They had a good concept and squandered its potential by reducing it to okay horror, and the promise of more next time. It didn’t expand beyond its marketing. It’s okay but could be much better.

3/5 beers

Brightburn (2019)


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Brightburn (2019)

MPAA Rating: R for horror violence/bloody images, and language..
90 mins
: David Yarovesky
Brian Gunn, Mark Gunn
Elizabeth Banks, David Denman, Jackson A. Dunn
: Horror | Sci-fi
Evil Has Found Its Superhero.
Memorable Movie Quote: "I want to do good mom. I do."
Theatrical Distributor:
Screen Gems
Official Site:
Release Date:
May 31, 2019
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
May 28, 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?

Brightburn (2019)

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