Review | Brightburn (2019)

Review | Brightburn (2019)

What if Superman was evil? This is Brightburn.

Brightburn is a film that doesn’t seem to have caused a big impact at the box office and I think that’s a shame. This low budget film, a reported $7 million, sci-fi/horror tale is actually rather good.

But first, a little rant over the film’s marketing. The posters are emblazoned with James Gunn’s name. James is the director of two incredibly successful Marvel Guardians of the Galaxy films who was famously fired and then rehired by Disney.

They’re obviously using James’s name to attract people to the film but he is the producer. While he does oversee the whole project, there are other people involved.

The story was written by James’s cousin Mark and brother Brian Gunn. The film was directed by David Yarovesky, his second full-length film as a director after 2014’s The Hive.

I actually stopped watching any trailers after the initial first two as I felt they were revealing far too much of the plot and revealing key moments.

So, what can I say about the film’s plot that doesn’t give away any major details, the review headline does encapsulate the entire premise? If you know the origins of Superman, then Brightburn will obviously feel very familiar.

As the film opens, Tori (Elizabeth Banks) and Kyle Bryer (David Denman) are discussing trying for a baby. Things are about to get intimate when the house is shaken by a loud explosion and Tori races to the window to see what it is.

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At the base of the forest treeline outside their home, a smoke trail drifts into the sky emanating from something that is giving off a pulsing red glow.

We are then treated to a montage of home video footage of a young boy, Brandon, growing up through his first few years of life. Everything is normal, a growing boy. The story jumps forward to the present day, ten years ahead and Brandon (Jackson A. Dunn) is now twelve years old.

As he lays asleep one-night, strange alien voices start to talk in his head and a red glow emanates from under the floor of the nearby barn.

Brandon walks over there and tries to open the trap door to the floor but it is locked with a chain and padlock. Tori, worried about where her son has gone in the middle of the night, finds him in the barn and when she interrupts him, he is confused as to his whereabouts.


Brandon Breyer (Jackson A. Dunn) with his dad Kyle Breyer (David Denman)

This is just the start of a series of events as Brandon’s power grows. He will utilise this power to get his own way and god forbid anyone who tries to stand in his path.

As already mentioned, the parallels with the origins of Superman are intentional but this story is the alternative, the other side of the mirror where our hero is really the villain.

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Brandon’s attacks on the people of Brightburn, Kansas are shocking, to say the least. The film does have enough several gory moments to earn its horror moniker, but nothing so harsh that I found it to be off-putting. If you hadn’t of guessed, I’m not a big horror fan.

Dunn is a brilliant child actor and his portrayal of Brandon is great with several personas to bring to the character. The innocent young boy who becomes the scary tyrant towards the film’s end helped with a smattering of great visual effects.

Elizabeth Banks is also great as a mother who comes to the realisation that her son is essentially not of this earth and capable of horrific acts. Despite this, she still tries to show love for her son until the end.

The film has been expertly directed under David Yarovesky. The tension really builds up in the films final act and I was left wondering where the story was going to end. I’m happy to say that the ending we did receive ticked all by boxes for satisfaction. I was really worried the film was going to cop out but thankfully it doesn’t.

If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if Superman turned evil, this is the film for you.

Brightburn may be a touch predictable in places but its still a great film with an ending I loved – 5/5


John Abbitt

About the author | John Abbitt

@UKFilmNerd | John loves film, and he used to write for his own website, The Tydirium Hangar Bay, in the late 1990s. Whilst that website became lost in the passages of time, John's love of film did not. He's back, writing for The Unheard Nerd.