What if the superheroes we grew to love and cherish became the greatest threat on the planet? What if Wonder Woman succumbed to blood lust, if Aquaman took delight in seeing life leave from a man’s eyes, and Superman no longer was our beacon of hope, but an instrument of death and destruction instead? How terrifying would that be?
Director David Yarovesky and producer James Gunn recently have unlocked a new genre of horror which I’d like to call ‘Super-Horror’. The thought of a survival film against a superpower wielder is terrifying. I mean, we have dealt with demons and such before but to see a superhero we know have their image warped into something sinister is frightening.
Brightburn follows the story of Brandon Breyer (Jackson. A. Dunn) who soon comes to learn that he is destined for a darker purpose when he realises that he has super abilities. The immediate feel I get from Brightburn is that this like a Smallville episode but telling the story from the perspective and idea of Superman being a mass murderer. Could you imagine having your head melted open by his heat vision, having each bone crushed slowly by his strength, or being chased by his super speed? Much like the concern that Batman had in Batman VS Superman, this concept is indeed what Batman was afraid of. “What if Superman were to turn and go bad, how would I take him down when I am merely a mortal man in a bat suit?”
And it’s a very good question too, “How?” It is this very question that keeps audiences grounded, engaged and curious when watching Brightburn. How does one stop Brandon Breyer when there is no Kryptonite to weaken him, nor anyone to challenge him? This is what makes the concept of ‘Super-Horror’ so interesting. It’s a locked battle strictly between humans and a super villain.
Growing up reading Superman comics and watching numerous Superman movie reboots, I believe the overexposure took away from my experience as the film felt like a Superman movie but just drawn over with horror elements. Despite this, I have always been curious to the answer, “What if Superman snapped?” I mean, there are the Injustice video games that already address the answers to this question, but it doesn’t deliver on a scale that Brightburn does. The fear factor, brutality and Brandon‘s mental flip is satisfying to watch because it explains perfectly well that this is what could happen if Superman did snap.
I really enjoyed seeing Brandon Breyer‘s development and the narrative showing how he loses control. Just the transition from an innocent child to mass murdering super psychopath is both captivating and terrifying. There are times in our lives where we have that particular person who pushes us to our limits, whether it be a bully or parents. Seeing superheroes letting this slide and always holding it in is sometimes frustrating watch, so seeing a different route taken in a darker direction with Brightburn is strangely fulfilling.
I found the acting and chemistry between Elizabeth Banks, who plays Brandon‘s mother Tori Breyer and Jackson. A. Dunn as Brandon, outstanding. Just the deep mother-son connection they have and then the strain and realisation Tori has when she comes to terms her son is a monster is an exceptional transition.
I thoroughly enjoyed Brightburn. The rich tension it provides and the display of a psychotic child with the abilities of Superman is horrifyingly entertaining. The suspense of Brandon being unpredictable is frightfully exciting. I guess the best way to sum up Brightburn is think Superman but the opposite. If you think this kind of movie is for you, I strongly suggest seeing it before it disappears from the cinemas.