Brightburn (2019) movie review Cultural Hater

Brightburn (2019) Has All The Right Ingredients But The Recipe’s Bad

The premise of “Brightburn” begged for a story far more engaging, and even though the film offers some vicious scenes and real scares, it’s just not enough to make it slightly less forgettable.

In the cinematic world dominated by superheroes, it was a matter of time until directors start messing around with the idea of “what if that superhuman was the bad guy…” portrayed in other genres. This could constitute a fantastic material for a badass movie, however, for results better than that premise alone “let’s do something different” we’ll have to wait.

Probably quite long.

“Brightburn” had everything it needed to succeed

Ever since David Yarovesky’s movie (a rather unknown figure to be frank) silently jumped on the train of this year’s hottest horror movies, “Brightburn” had been a screening I’ve been looking forward to. Amidst the bonkers cult craze “Midsommar”, the surprisingly fresh adaptation of King’s “Pet Sematary” and Jordan Peele’s complex mind-f*** “Us”, “Brightburn” threw its elbows around to find a comfy place on its own among the best.

Brightburn (2019) film review
“Brightburn” movie still.

The premise Yarovesky cooked up was an idea that guaranteed that special spot. In any preceding attempt, the bad guys with special powers weren’t treated right to say the least – “Suicide Squad” delivered a cheap cheeseburger for the price of a steak with fries and a salad, meanwhile other titles were either to small to count for the bigger audience (“Swamp Thing”) or they should have remained in the depths of the minds that created them.

In other words, the dark side of Superman is what Henry Cavill’s take in “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” didn’t get even close to, but “Brightburn” could actually go there with a bit of creativity. The farmland setting, the loving parents praying for a child, the torments of the dark forces, the voices inside the kid’s head – it’s all in there.

The technical side is also praiseworthy. Michael Dallatorre’s cinematography extracts all the brooding creepiness of the small town sultriness, and by orchestrating a great deal of picturesque shots and dynamic camera swings, his work could elevate a so-so story to a more memorable experience. 

But the plot of “Brightburn” isn’t, unfortunately, even so-so.

“Brightburn” is frustratingly insipid

The issue with almost every horror movie that stars a creepy/weird/possessed kid is the presence of its unforgivably blind and stupid parents.

There’s no need to dig too deep to see that pattern throwing movies under the bus. Only this year, the stupid parent(s) issue buried “The Prodigy”, “A Hole In The Ground” and now, it also wasted the potential of “Brightburn”.

A bit of plot explanation should be helpful here.

Tori (Elizabeth Banks) and Kyle (David Denman) crave to raise a kid, and once Brandon arrives, there is nothing else to do than to cherish him. When the kid begins to showcase some radically abnormal behaviour, it meets with a wall of denial.

Why? Why the parents like to pretend that everything’s all right when it’s clearly the other way round?

The script, written by Brian and Mark Gunn, orders these two people to act completely senseless. Their blindness goes beyond any kind of parental love, and without any signal that’d point at their own mental issues (like it happened in “Hereditary”), the lack of proper reaction is just painfully unreal. 

A glance filled with surprise isn’t enough when a kid crunches a fork with its own teeth, is it?

Official poster of Brightburn (2019) superhero horror movie
Poster of “Brightburn”.

Banks and Denman can’t be blamed for this mess either, as they do their best to look and sound credible after another troubling stunt of their “finders keepers” kid. It’s Banks that displays the calming aura of the emotional all-in mother, but even so, her character becomes aware of Brandon’s deeds far, far too late.

An origin story that delivers nothing

Any kind of emotional investment is pretty much in vain, because the script of “Brightburn” seems oddly hasted and dissatisfies rather than rewards. Even when it manages to delight with audiovisual concept, the main dish isn’t nearly as fresh as these sides.

And finally, there could be a hundred paths to explore within that area of a bad superman, but “Brightburn” took the one that’s just simply not entertaining enough to make anyone truly care.

Brightburn (2019)

Dir. David Yarovesky

Hate grade: 5.5/10

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