[Review] “Brightburn”

Happy Halloween everyone! To celebrate my favorite holiday I will of course be reviewing a horror movie. Because this is a website dedicated to nerd culture, it’s only fitting that I take a look at a superhero horror movie. You’ve read the title so you know we’re taking a look at Brightburn.

The film was released on May 24, 2019. It is directed by David Yarovesky and produced by James Gunn himself. The screenplay was even written by his brothers Brian and Mark Gunn. The movie stars Jackson A. Dunn as Brandon Breyer. Elizabeth Banks plays his mother, Tori Breyer. David Denman plays Brandon’s father, Kyle Breyer.

The plot revolves around a young boy with a sociopathic nature discovering he has superpowers. He begins to use his powers for dark purposes as his parents struggle to control or even understand who or what their son actually is.

Let’s start with what I loved about this movie. First off, the premise is so intriguing, the idea of a superhuman with unchecked power and psychotic tendencies is a breath of fresh air for the superhero genre. Not only that it’s also a new direction for the horror genre. I’ve only really seen one other superhero horror movie and that was the indie film “All Superheroes Must Die”. The concept of this film drives it to such heights and I was eager to see how differently the superhero tropes played out.

Next, I want to talk about the performances. Jackson A. Dunn is amazing in this movie which is super important. This movie is contingent on a strong kid performance and he rises to the challenge and makes the character of Brandon so menacing and psychotic. Elizabeth Banks is the standout of this movie, before this I really only knew her as a comedy actress. However this movie showed me she has such range, adding both compassion but a stubbornness that makes her character so endearing. She sells that this mom either can’t see or just doesn’t want to believe that her son is becoming.

The actual horror scenes in this film are phenomenal. While they do have jumpscares, they follow in James Wan’s footsteps in using them as a release to the suspense of the scenes. The horror is reliant on the suspense created by Brandon’s unstoppable nature. In other words the jumpscares are byproduct of the fear and not used to create the fear.

As far as flaws go I don’t really have anything other than some minor nitpicks and some slight pacing issues. For the most part the pacing is actually really good, the movie is just kind of fast in the beginning. Other than that I really had no issues with this film.

This film is an amazing original entry in the superhero genre. It carves its own identity in the current superhero movie landscape with its subversive premise. It’s bolstered by incredible performances which bring life to the well written roles. The well crafted horror sequences perfectly use suspense and jumpscares to their advantage. I hope to see more superhero horror movies in the future and I hope they are all on this level of quality.

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