Brightburn (15)

Horror (2019)
90mins US

Starring: David Denman, Elizabeth Banks, Jackson A Dunn
Director: David Yarovesky
Writer(s): Brian Gunn, Mark Gunn
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

Kansas couple Kyle and Tori Breyer are stunned when a spaceship falls from the night sky. Inside, the couple discovers a baby boy. The Breyers decide to raise this mysterious infant as their flesh and blood and christen him Brandon. When he reaches his difficult teenage years, Brandon answers a call from his spacecraft, which unlocks the boy's abilities, including superhuman strength and speed. The teenager struggles to maintain control of his remarkable abilities.

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LondonNet Film Review
Brightburn (15)

A spaceship carrying an extraterrestrial newborn crash-lands in rural America and a kindly couple adopts the infant. The otherworldly boy matures and unlocks incredible powers of speed and strength, taking to the sky in a homemade costume with a red cape billowing in his slipstream. If that adopted child was a refugee from planet Krypton, director David Yarovesky might be rebooting the Superman franchise, which has rarely soared since Christopher Reeve swaggered in spandex. Instead, Brightburn gleefully corrupts a familiar origin story and anoints the gravity-defying protagonist not as mankind's greatest hope, but as the most terrifying threat to our existence...

Brightburn. Copyright: 2019 CTMG, Inc. Caption: Jackson A. Dunn as Brandon Breyer in Brightburn, directed by David Yarovesky. Photo: Boris Martin. All Rights Reserved.Named after a fictional town in Kansas where the destruction unfolds, Yarovesky's picture puts a sinister, gore-soaked twist on the Man Of Steel, engineering a series of grisly deaths as the adopted son learns how "special" he is and deciphers a transmission from his fallen spacecraft: "Take the world." A misery-saturated script penned by Brian Gunn and Mark Gunn, brothers of Guardians Of The Galaxy director James Gunn, mines a rich vein of dark, subversive humour but their narrative drilling is hit and miss. The sibling screenwriters leave the barn door ajar for sequels. During the end credits, a raving conspiracy theorist (Michael Rooker) presents evidence of at least two other harbingers of doom on our planet, who look suspiciously like Machiavellian mutations of Wonder Woman and Aquaman.

Back in Kansas, Kyle Breyer (David Denman) and wife Tori (Elizabeth Banks) try unsuccessfully for a child until the universe answers their prayers with a falling meteorite. Inside is a baby boy and the Breyers tell family including Tori's sister Merilee (Meredith Hagner) and her husband Noah (Matt Jones) that they have adopted a child. When Brandon (Jackson A Dunn) reaches his awkward high school years, spaceship wreckage hidden in the barn emits an ominous red glow and the hormone-addled teenager exhibits violent mood swings. "It's called puberty," jokes Merilee. Brandon becomes dangerously obsessed with classmate Caitlyn (Emmie Hunter) and angrily lashes out at anyone who challenges his authority. Sheriff Deever (Gregory Alan Williams) investigates. While Tori dismisses speculation linking Brandon to the monstrosities, Kyle pleads with his wife to remove her rose-tinted spectacles. "He's not our son!" he barks. "He's some thing we found in the woods."

Brightburn boasts plenty of splatter as Brandon goes on the rampage, including one dislocated jaw and a wince-inducing close-up of a shard of glass in a blinking eye. The tone is uneven - a tug-of-war between parody and slasher pulls hardest in favour of the latter - and characterisation is thin, leaving Dunn to stare eerily into the camera to prickle our fear. When all else fails, Yarovesky resorts to conventional and not-so-super jump scares.

- Jo Planter

Brightburn. Copyright: 2019 CTMG, Inc. Caption: Jackson A. Dunn as Brandon Breyer in Brightburn, directed by David Yarovesky. Photo: Boris Martin. All Rights Reserved.

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