How to breath new life into the superhero genre? That is the question Hollywood executives will be selling organs to answer in the coming years as we reach peak saturation point of all things caped and powerful.
Brightburn, it seems, has one potential solution, take the superhero genre and begin to splice it with other popular genres. In this case, horror. It’s a simple What If… situation. What if Superman, aka Clarke Kent, fell to earth, was adopted by a kindly farming couple and ended up being a full-on super-villain rather than superhero?
Tori (Elizabeth Banks) and Kyle Bryer (David Denman) are said couple struggling to have a baby of their own. We know this because their house is apparently stocked with every fertility book Amazon has to offer. While they are trying to make a baby something rocks their house. Turns out it isn’t what’s happening between the sheets but instead something has crashed into their land. Within said something a tiny, cute little baby is found. Adopting him and calling him Brandon (Jackson A. Dunn) the couple rear with all the love and affection in the world, but apparently that isn’t enough to stop him breaking bad.
After Josh Trank’s Chronicle it is surprising we haven’t seen more supervillains on the big screen. This year’s Joker is certainly putting that to right. But Brightburn never really delves into the actual reason behind evil. Brandon has a good life, his parents love him and he seems to have at least a friend at school, even if others pick on him. Apparently the writers know this all too as they decide to have Brandon’s ship be the main cause of his nefarious ways.
There are moments where the horror works on a gore front, but it never scares and seems unable to make you jump. If anything Brightburn seems caught between explaining Brandon’s determination to do evil and caring too much about his parents refusing to accept he could do such a thing.
What frustrates is that there are moments, glimmers where Brightburn touches upon something, only to dismiss it for something lesser. Watching Banks as the doting mother contemplate and plot to kill her son has moments of emotion and terror but such concepts are merely passing plot devices.
Occasionally inventive but otherwise feels like paint-by-numbers. Brightburn wants to set the genre ablaze but fizzles out like a match in the rain.