David Yarovesky’s Brightburn is sort of underrated, and I suppose that’s better than being overhyped. Still, I do recommend checking this movie out. Like Amazon Prime’s The Boys or even the good old-fashioned X-Men, Brightburn is a solid reminder that superpowers would be scary. After all, aren’t people potentially deadly enough as is? Give them any sort of power and some of them will surely abuse it. In that respect, I think nearly any story with such thematic elements wins a point or two. It actually is food for thought, and nourishing food at that.

I hesitate to call Brightburn a genius movie, but it is intelligently done. For example, parents Tori (Elizabeth Banks) and Kyle Breyer (David Denman) immediately hide the spaceship their son Brandon (Jackson A. Dunn) arrived in. While this is similar to Superman’s origin story, it ends up taking dark turns before very long. The parents seem to know the townspeople wouldn’t be so delighted to see that bizarre ship. Also, the Breyer family attempts to lead the life of a “normal family,” but it’s inevitably a tale of a bizarre family gone awry. Normal discipline cannot work with a child who knows he’s invincible, can it? While I don’t know if this qualifies as cult films, a story of a superpowered maniac has its appeal.

Rating: R. Definitely an R

Many movies can be rated R for mild violence. Hell, even some considerably violent films get a “hard PG pass.” However, there’s no denying that Brightburn is an R-rated and ultimately bizarre funhouse ride. While X-Men’s Logan delighted in dropping F-bombs at every opportunity, Brightburn ends up heavily caked in blood and some disturbing images. Horror fans should not be too disappointed. In fact, this movie has some gross-out moments that’ll make you say, “Offensive language who? Sexual content what?” The violence is effective and definitely part of the story. Think of a young, superpowered Ted Bundy.

‘Brightburn’ Avoids Being Too Nerdy

I’m capable of being nerdy here and there, so I’m not going to judge too much. Still, I appreciate this movie for not layering on endless superhero and sci-fi themes. They are present at times, but it’s not exactly an homage-fest. It is a supervillain movie that stays down to earth. At no point does Brandon re-enter his ship to be pursued by a group of space pirates, or any corny shit like that.

The baby and ship have a bizarre connection, but it’s more Satanic in nature than anything related to laser-blasters and space mutants. Brightburn is on its way to somewhere else. It’s more “Omen-style than Jedi-style. One could imagine Brandom drafting some Death Star plans, but this is no Skywalker, Obi-Wan, Yoda, Wookie cookie-cutter rip-off clusterfuck.

Brightburn’s Possible Kryptonite

This movie experiments with the effects of power on the human mind. Or does it? There are signs throughout that Brandon may be possessed by soem evil force outside of himself. Honestly, I think this movie loses something because of that. You see his twisted pictures that he draws, but at times one wonders if they’re coming from his own mind or that wretched spaceshit. What caused him to hear the music of evil and dance? What allowed him to open a door, to pass that point of no return? I would like to think it was the nature of his power itself, or the idea that “No one can possibly stop me if I misbehave!”

However, that possible message gets confused with all these weird whisperings of evil scattered throughout. At that point, I’d prefer if he slipped and fell on the floor, triggering an accidental shift in personality after a brain hemorrhage (or something like that). Instead, audience might say, “Oh, Brandon is possessed by the alien space-demon by now. Okay.” See the difference? This also opens the door to the movie becoming cheesier in a sequel. Maybe he sees numerous alien planets, and also a David Hasselhoff-type confronting him about his evil ways.

Maybe the Hasselhoff-like hero can have a similar backstory; While playing around with the alien world, he gains his power and ultimately, an android. In other words, a sequel could very easily lose its horror edge by being too mystical and magical, or even too immersed in superpower dynamics. It’s a bit of a tightrope.

Final Thoughts: Where Brightburn Burns Brightest

This movie successfully blends a Superman-esque origin story with a “Don’t open the cellar door” vibe, while threatening to re-open the stab wound we’ve received by years of unworthy-hero worship. In reality, Superman is dead to some of us, and probably deserves it. The Fortress of Solitude falls into ruin and leaves him depressed, because being too self-virtuous and powerful is an easy pathway to villainy (which, interestingly, is why Batman fought Superman anyway). A real Superman would surely have many former friends and a growing supply of enemies, whether he’s earned them or not. After all, isn’t that why the identity’s secret to begin with?

These elements are lightly brought out here. In the movie itself, Tori, the loving mom, grants her child all the love and respect she can muster, but it’s not going to be enough, and it almost leads her to covering for his abuses. His dream come true is everyone else’s nightmarte, and the couple is not to live happily ever after. While the idyllic newfound “normal” life seems true at first, reality spills out, leaving everyone distraught and in mortal danger. That’s right with the horror tradition, and this movie’s more original about it than some critics are giving it credit for.

What are your thoughts on Brightburn? Let us know in the comments!

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Wade Wanio is an author.

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