Fire of Authenticity
We need to talk about Superboy. At first, Brightburn can seem more like a twisted version of Superman than We Need to Talk About Kevin. For a director new to the screen, David Yarovesky ambles into territory marked by the largest hoof prints. Both the audience and he should expect a running checklist of horror cliches. They are standard operating procedure, and those who try to be smart about their application are denying the basics. However, Yarovesky takes this handicap in his stride. As such, we get the glowing eyes in the dark, a slab of gore and well edited sound effects. Although the Superman origin story has been covered, itís refreshing to witness a scarier slant on a being who can fly and fry.
Imagine a couple happy in their relationship except for one thing: all efforts to conceive have failed. One night, their house shakes and the nearby forest emits a bizarre glow. From this strange happening, Kyle and Tori Breyer, played by David Denman and Elizabeth Banks respectively, are gifted a baby boy. He appears human and for a decade all goes well. Then Brandon (Jackson A. Dunn) begins showing alarming signs of super human ability. These include unbelievable strength -- bones break under the hand shake -- and flight. Such growing awareness spells the dawning of something else...
To his credit, Yarovesky equips Brightburn with elemental, world building accessories many contemporaries overlook: good casting. Both Banks and Denham make a believable couple, their hopes dashed by trepidation as they come to terms with the alien menace being tucked into bed every night. Also, Dunn comes across as a much older thespian than his youthful appearance might suggest. He's professional, intelligent and it'll be a treat to see what he does next.
Personally, I believe emotional growth starts long before birth and gets passed down from descendant to descendant. Because our emotions are too complex for a blank slate, there has to be some inherent bias towards right or wrong. This gets patented early, then evolves or devolves as time moves along.
Curiously, Banks has shielded her better talents by promoting pantomime fodder such as The Hunger Games and Power Rangers. By contrast, Brightburn borrows a page from her Seabiscuit days allowing for depth and resonance. Therefore, her shock mirrors how others might feel. By making such emotional scars visible, our hearts yearn to fix them.
Even without superpowers, itís a fear all parents share: hoping their offspring can mature into self-sufficient and caring individuals.
According to sources, Brightburn galloped into cinemas on a modest budget of $6 million. Itís remarkable how visually adept Yarovesky makes this, even more so than the men and women behind the vapid Marvel brand. Apart from visual dexterity, the film features lived-in personalities who truly... burn bright.
(Released by Screen Gems and rated "R" by MPAA.)