Ever since I saw the first trailer for Brightburn, I have been very intrigued. The reason for that? It seemed like a very familiar story to a certain character that I’m a fan of… any guesses? The question of “what if Superman was bad?” has always been around, and has been explored in some capacity – his Earth-3 doppelganger – Ultraman, but nothing like this. I went to see the film earlier this week, I didn’t have a clue what to expect, so I just went in with an open mind and here’s what I thought.
A couple are unsuccessful in trying for a baby, when one suddenly crash lands in their back garden in a mysterious spaceship. As they grow as a family, the power grows with the child, but perhaps not for the best.
Something that is quite nice about this film is that it’s pretty much a story that we already know, just with a slight twist. With that in mind it feels very familiar, and sometimes that’s a nice feeling – especially when it comes to a horror film! If I’m honest, I am very surprised that this concept hasn’t been explored more in film. But I am so glad that it finally has been. To me, it very much feels like a “elsewhere” comic story, and I am a sucker for those!
Another thing I like about this film, is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. There are a few laughs in the film, and a lot of homages to an iconic story and superhero, which is great. I originally thought that I wouldn’t compare the film so much to Superman, but it’s very hard not to. It’s not often we get to see Superman show his true power in comics and also in film, because if he does there are consequences. Brightburn does NOT hold back, it’s frightening, gory, jumpy and I really loved it.
One thing I would have liked to have seen in this film, is a bit more information on where the boy is from. What happened? Why was he sent to Earth? And why is he all about world domination? Maybe they are waiting to explore that a little – perhaps in a sequel – I hope so! James, Brian & Mark Gunn have brought us something that we have always questioned and wondered. We now have an idea as to what Superman would be like if he was bad instead of good.
Jackson A. Dunn played Brandon Breyer and he was fantastic in this film! Children in horror films are usually creepy, that’s a general rule for horror films… but Jackson’s character grew darker more and more throughout the film and he really show that though his acting. I love the moment he realises just how powerful and “superior” he really is, that was a great performance, and I hope to see more from him in the future.
Elizabeth Banks & David Denman played Brandon’s adopted parents – Tori & Kyle. If I’m honest, I’ve never seen David Denman in anything other than this film, but I feel that his character gave us most of the jokes. I’m not sure if it was intentional, but it seemed like his character had never had a great relationship with his son. Elizabeth Banks, I am very familiar with and would actually call myself a fan of. She was great in this film, and is such a versatile actress. You can see her love and affection for her son turn in to horror and dread after she realises what her son is truly capable of. That change was portrayed extremely well, and mostly just through facial expressions.
Cinematography & Special Effects
Compared to your standard Superhero/villain film, Brightburn had a relatively low budget – £6-12 million. I think with what they had, they did one hell of a job. I thought the effects were great. There were one or two bits were the effects did look a little naff, but overall I thought they did a great job – especially with the gore!
Now, a little bit about the score – this is not your average horror score. Although you have the dark and endearing music typically found within a horror, there is also a huge play on an existing score. What I loved about the score for this film is that it played heavily on the Man Of Steel theme. My favourite film and soundtrack. You know the “This Is Clark Kent” track?, those first two piano keys? They occur throughout the film, and when you are waiting for that third note, it changes to a much deeper key. I LOVED this. You never hear that third key, or the whole track, but it is very well done.
It is very clear that the film is HEAVILY influenced by Zack Snyder’s Man Of Steel, and I have absolutely no problem with that. In fact, I loved that. There are so many scenes that were also present in MOS. It’s the perfect parallel, and the perfect homage to a great Superman film (the best in fact). I’m a huge fan of Man Of Steel, so seeing that brought so many memories back for me when watching this film. As well as the homage to MOS, there are some great shots that show the true power of Brandon/Brightburn, and I love seeing that on the big screen.
Overall, Brighturn is a great film. but I feel unless you are a hard core superman or superhero fan, it won’t actually do much for you as a horror film. I loved it personally because of the ties and homages to Superman, but I know that isn’t everyone’s cup of tea! I truly hope there are more films in this series, and judging by the final credit scene we may even get some more familiar characters thrown into the mix! Like I said before, I didn’t want to compare the film and concept to Superman too much, but it is extremely hard not too.
Brightburn is already out in the US, but will be released on 19th June in the UK. You can view the full trailer here.