Hello, Ghouls and Ghoulies! Welcome to the first part of my Countdown to Halloween (and yes I know it’s still early), a series of posts that will focus on horror in all it’s forms. And what better way to kick things off, than with a movie review. When it comes to superheroes, I have never particularly been a fan of Superman. The man who is faster than a speeding bullet, who isn’t a bird nor a plane, but simply an alien from the planet Krypton, has always been too perfect for me. And quite frankly a little bit boring as well. The only time when I became interested in him, was for the storyline the Death of Superman, where he, well died as the title implied. It was a huge marketing ploy, but one that also really payed off. With DC seeing that the sales for the Superman comic were dwindling they decided to kill off their iconic hero. The ploy worked, as sales skyrocketed, but that is a story for another time. Suffice it to say I just don’t like his perfect moral standards. To be honest nobody is that perfect, and pretty much everyone has some kind of dark side inside of him. That’s what makes us human right? No, give me Batman over Superman every time. So wait, what’s up Raist? This was supposed to be a post for Halloween right? Why are we talking about superheroes here? Well, let me ask you a simple question: what if Superman wasn’t a hero? What if he was evil, and rotten to the core? Interesting premise right? They should make a movie about this concept….
Tori and Kyle Breyer live a quiet life on a farm in the small town of Brightburn, Kansas. Everything is pretty good in their lives except for the fact that they have been trying for a while now to conceive a child, but have been unable to do so. One night a spaceship crashlands near their home, and inside they find an infant child. Unable to believe their luck, they decide to take him home and raise him as their own. The young child which they name Brandon grows up to be a healthy young man, and ten years after the Breyers have found him, everything seems to be normal. But Brandon is anything but normal something of which he himself isn’t aware yet. However one night, the ship in which he was found begins to sent out strange messages drawing him in to the barn, where his parents had hidden it from him. His mother finds him chanting in a strange language, and in a complete trance. The next day, the incident seemingly forgotten, Brandon has some trouble starting up a lawnmower. Much to his surprise, while trying to get the thing started, he tosses it a long distance away straight up into the air. After this more of his powers begin to manifest, as well as one burning message from the ship: “Take the world!” The citizens of Brightburn, and in particular the Breyers family, are in for a terrible nightmare. And both Tori and Kyle will find out that a parent’s love isn’t always enough….
Now let’s get one thing straight here, while this movie of course has more than a passing resemblance to the character of Superman, it’s not linked in any way to the man from the planet Krypton. But that doesn’t mean that link isn’t implied, especially during a fun after credits sequence at the end of the movie. That said, I had quite a blast with this alternate take on superhero movies. It’s also most definitely a horror film, no questions about that. There are a couple of really gruesome (and gory) scenes in it, but it doesn’t become any more horrific than a scene from a new episode of say the Walking Dead. The movie has a fast pace, and during it’s one and a half hours of runtime, there isn’t a single moment where I found my attention wavering. It’s a film with a pretty creepy atmosphere, and while it certainly has some great special effects, it’s not one of those movies that relies solely on action and CGI. So in case you are expecting this to be a Marvel movie for instance, you will be sorely disappointed. No this is a movie where the effects serve the story, and not the other way around, which honestly is quite refreshing for a change.
In fact one of the most interesting aspects of this film for me was the family dynamic. When Brandon begins to behave exceedingly erratic, and people close to them begin to point that out, the parents at first are in denial. They want to protect their son, and only see the good in him, and honestly that’s what any good parent wants to do right? But it’s the father Kyle, who is the first that begins to have his doubts, but Tori refuses to even remotely adress the possibility that their son is in fact a homicidal psychopath. This creates some great tension between them, and from an acting point of view that was well played out. Actress Elizabeth Banks did an amazing job in her role as the distraught mother. She really does stop at nothing to protect her son and always is ready to defend him, never once wavering in her conviction that her son has a good heart. David Denman, who for me at least is an actor I haven’t really seen much of, also had a great part as the father. His anguish at having to come to terms with the fact that the boy he raised from childhood is pretty much the devil incarnate, and also having to try to convince his wife of that, was a pretty difficult part to play. But David succeeded at that with flying colours.
Now in order for a movie like this to work, one also has to have a creepy child actor who is able to play the kid from hell. They found him in Jackson A. Dunn. His mix of inherent charm combined with an underlying coldness, worked very well in bringing the character of Brandon come to life. I often wonder what effects playing roles such as these have on younger children, especially since he really has to perform in a couple of brutal and horrid scenes. That said Jackson played a very convincing “evil Superman”, and he was definitely a big reason why this movie worked so well. That said, back in the day this movie received some very mixed reviews. There were people that absolutely loved it, but also many that hated it. I guess this also has to do with the way this film was marketed. I think a lot of people expected this to be a big superhero kind of film, albeit an evil take on it. And that I can tell you it’s not. This is a true horror movie, and while it certainly has it roots in superhero mythology, that’s pretty much the only thing it has in common with it. I for one thoroughly enjoyed this movie, and if Superman would have been like this from the beginning I might have bought more of his comics. Does that mean I’m evil? Naw….not really. I hope you enjoyed this first part of the kickoff for the countdown to Halloween. Thanks for reading!
I give Brightburn a 9 out of 10 score.