Directed by: David Yarovesky
Starring: Elizabeth Banks, David Denman, Jackson A. Dunn, Matt Jones, Meredith Hagner
Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi, Drama, Mystery
Release date: 24 May 2019
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Budget: Rs. $6 million
Brightburn is a 2019 American superhero horror film produced by James Gunn and Kenneth Huang. The film is directed by David Yarovesky and stars Elizabeth Banks, David Denman, Jackson A. Dunn, Matt Jones, and Meredith Hagner, and follows a young alien who lands on earth and realizes he has super powers. The film is produced and financed by Screen Gems, Stage 6 Films, Troll Court Entertainment, and The H Collective.
Brightburn was announced as an “untitled James Gunn horror project” in December 2017. Gunn acts as a producer on the film, with his brother Mark and cousin Brian Gunn writing the screenplay. Principal photography began in March 2018 and filming wrapped in May of that same year.
Brightburn is scheduled to be theatrically released in the United States on May 24, 2019, by Sony Pictures Releasing. The film received mixed reviews, with critics praising the horror elements and Banks’ performance, but felt the film didn’t fully deliver on its premise.
Brightburn: Movie Trailer #2
In 2006, Tori and Kyle Breyer are a farm couple living in Brightburn, Kansas. They are trying to have a child, but have failed to conceive. One night, a meteor falls from the sky near their farm with a baby inside. They decide to adopt him, naming him Brandon.
Ten years later, Brandon discovers that he has superhuman strength. That same night, Brandon sleepwalks to the farm, trying to open a trapdoor which contains the spaceship he arrived in. Tori intervenes and wakes him, with Brandon appearing delirious. After this, Brandon grows more disobedient and disrespectful towards Tori and Kyle. To his father’s surprise, Brandon chews and bends a fork with his teeth; Kyle begins to suspect that something is wrong with Brandon.
Tori finds strange and disturbing drawings, leading Kyle to talk with Brandon about puberty and girls. That night, Brandon goes to his classmate Caitlyn’s house, staring at her through a window until she notices him. The next night, Kyle discovers that their chickens have been killed. Tori suggests that it was a wolf attack, but Kyle insists that Brandon is responsible. The next morning at school, students do a trust fall exercise, but Caitlyn does not catch Brandon, calling him a pervert for spying on her. Brandon breaks Caitlyn’s hand when she tries to pick him up and is suspended for two days, reporting to his aunt Merilee for counseling afterwards. Later, Tori finds her son levitating above the open trapdoor containing the hidden spaceship, repeating the phrase “take the world”.
Brandon visits Caitlyn who tells him her mother has forbidden her from talking to him. Furious, Brandon murders her mother in a diner. Merilee tries counseling her nephew to no avail. She gets angry and decides to tell the police about the situation. Brandon follows her home and threatens her. Merilee’s husband, Noah, finds him in the closet and decides to tell his parents. Brandon attacks Noah, and kills him in his car when he tries to drive away.
Tori and Kyle learn of Noah’s death and are alarmed when Brandon does not emotionally react to the news. Convinced that Brandon killed Noah, Kyle takes him on a hunting trip with the intention of killing him. He shoots Brandon in the head, but the bullet does not hurt him. Brandon fires lasers into Kyle’s head, killing him. Meanwhile, Tori finds drawings depicting the various murders in Brandon’s room and calls the police. Brandon arrives at the house, destroying it while killing the arriving officers. Tori goes down to the basement where the spaceship is and takes a sharp piece as a shiv, hoping it will serve as his weakness as it had previously made him bleed. Brandon finds Tori, who tries to stab him. Enraged, he lifts her above the clouds and drops her to her death as a plane flies towards him.
The plane crashes and everyone on board is killed. News reports show Brandon destroying cities and killing numerous people worldwide.
Brightburn: Movie Trailer #1
Has there ever been a more ominous portent in cinema than the Bob Marley song, Three Little Birds? Often mistakenly thought to be named Every Little Thing is Gonna Be Alright, or Don’t Worry About a Thing – understandable because those are its most prominent lyrics – it has been featured in several films and television shows over history, usually with the intent to disarm the audience.
But the result is often quite the opposite. Every time you hear Marley’s soothing lyrics in the background, or – as is the case in the new film Brightburn – being sung by a woman to her child, the immediate reaction is to expect the worst. You’re not stupid. You’ve seen movies. Everything is most definitely not going to be alright, and Elizabeth Banks’ character better be worried. Her son is turning into a supervillain.
Brightburn is the new high-concept horror film from producer James Gunn, best known for his Guardians of the Galaxy movies, and for being the writer of two Scooby Doo films (and several trashy tweets). Initially sold as an intriguing reimagining of the iconic Superman story, Brightburn very quickly announces that it has nothing of worth to add to its one-line premise – what if Clark Kent was evil?
Banks and David Denman play Tori and Kyle Breyer. It is implied, with the subtlety of a brick to the face, that they are unable to conceive. Their wishes are granted when an alien spaceship bearing a baby crash lands at their large farmhouse. A decade or so later, the child, whom they’ve named Brandon, has grown up to become an outsider – routinely bullied by other kids, overwhelmed by sudden outbursts of emotion, and an absolute mystery to his parents.
As he approaches puberty, he begins exhibiting rather strange behaviour. He realises, for instance, that he has the ability to move objects with his mind, and he also seems to have super strength – so far so Superman. But one of the earliest indications that this movie is off its rocker is in the manner in which it chooses to depict this particular evolution. We don’t see Brandon lift heavy objects, for instance, or use his strength to inadvertently hurt people. We are instead treated to a scene in which Brandon eats food, and absentmindedly chews half the fork as well.
In fact, director David Yarovesky routinely makes the most bizarre choices with the material, written by Gunn’s brother and cousin, Brian and Mark – a fine example of Hollywood nepotism for those wondering if it’s mostly a Bollywood thing. The idea to reimagine Superman’s origin story – easily one of the most recognisable superhero origin stories of all time – as a horror picture isn’t necessarily terrible. But Brightburn isn’t aping good horror movies, which would have been fine; instead, it’s satisfied being a cheap knockoff of one of those Conjuring spin-offs – overly reliant on jump scares and idiotic characters.
And this lack of ambition is reflected in Brandon, too. Just when you’d expect him to ramp up the terror and murder someone, he’s busy wasting his time with pointless poltergeist activity – drawing strange symbols in his notebook, and standing at the foot of his female classmate’s bed every night. When he is discovered, and accused (justifiably) of being a creep, he punctures the accuser’s eye with a shard of glass.
Perhaps the greatest reinterpretation of the Superman story is Red Son, a comic book written by Mark Millar, which asks the question, “what if Superman’s ship had been a few hours late and landed in the Soviet Union instead of a Kansas farm?” In Red Son, instead of fighting for ‘Truth, justice, and the American Way’, Superman wields a hammer and sickle, and is described in Soviet radio broadcasts ‘as the champion of the common worker who fights a never-ending battle for Stalin and socialism, and the international expansion of the Warsaw Pact’. The moral of the story being that despite his upbringing, Superman will always be an inherently decent person – he is driven by neither politics nor patriotism, and is, instead, motivated by an indescribable desire to do good.
Brightburn isn’t that story. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. The subtext – assuming of course that there is any – is cruel, inhuman, and downright deplorable. We know nothing of Brandon’s past, or motivations. He is, for all intents and purposes, an evil robot that has been switched on by an invisible hand. It’s a daft, unambitious perversion of the Superman story.
If you’re looking for films in which a super-powered child grows up to become a moody murderer, you’re better off watching Looper, or, heck, even Man of Steel.