Brightburn is now playing in cinemas nationwide.
Unless you have been living under a rock, the origin story of Superman should be well known to most people, even if they have never picked up a comic book. It’s the classic story of an alien baby sent to earth from a home planet facing imminent destruction, crashing into a cornfield in midwest America, where a childless couple adopts the orphan. In the Superman universe, the child’s developing superhuman skills and abilities are a force for good, leading to the adult hero we have all come to love. But what if this coming of age journey had a different ending? What if the child was full of fear and anger, their destiny pre-planned by an alien race hell-bent on invasion. Well, fear not, as Brightburn is here to explore these ideas by subverting the classic Superman journey into a tale of corrupted power, destruction and adolescent terror.
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Brightburn’s premise may not be entirely original as it merges the story of Superman with the X-Men, but it is deliciously dark as teenage hormones mix with deadly powers. However, it also struggles to maximise its potential with a short runtime, never allowing the space needed to explore Brandon’s journey from a mere child to a deadly teenage god. Aside from Superman and X-Men parallels, Brightburn owes a considerable debt to The Omen. Here Director David Yarovesky and screenwriters Mark Gunn and Brian Gunn explore the classic evil child premise through a lens of parental realisation and horror. In Brightburn, as in The Omen, we see the true nature of an adopted child slowly come into light amidst a flurry of death, blood and disaster, with the child’s loving parents forced to face the horrific realisation that they have harboured a killer.
However, despite its solid horror credentials, Brightburn never quite manages to deliver all it promises due to a restrictive runtime that could easily have been longer. However, there are moments of beautifully crafted horror that dovetail the classic terror of the evil child with a new and unique comic book world.
Director: David Yarovesky