Horror films aren’t straightforward these days, even if they claim to follow the same traditional and well-worn pathways. Most of the work has been done before, and popular sub-genres have been exposed from all angles and dissected, satirized, and even merged. Unfortunately, the latest ideas aren’t in plentiful supply, so I was thrilled over Brightburn: Son Of Darkness following the initial trailers.
Tori and Kyle Breyer live on an isolated farm in the tiny town called Brightburn. So naturally, they would like nothing more from their offspring. However, they’re not having much luck. Then, with a meteor that is believed to be hitting the woods surrounding their farm at night, things seem to be changing. The celestial body is revealed to be a spacecraft and is the home of a newborn boy. The decision to hold the baby and raise it on their own is swiftly taken, and the space capsule is hidden away in the barn.
The years go by, and Brandon, named after the Breyers give, their newfound child turns 12. However, something is stirring inside Brandon. Slowly but surely, he realizes he’s not like his parents or other people. He has not had a blood clot in his life, but he also appears to have supernatural abilities. The more Brandon learns details about him; the more horrifying events occur in the surrounding area.
In case it’s unclear enough in summary, Brightburn uses more than 1:1 from the beginning tale of Superman, which is it’s the plot gimmick that got me so intrigued. What happens if Kal-El (i.e., Clark Kent, aka Superman) does not grow up to become a hero but instead uses his superhuman abilities to commit evil? This is a fascinating concept and one from which a lot could be created. But, unfortunately, the creator, Brian, as well as Mark Gunn (brothers of the famous filmmaker James Gunn), already give away a significant portion of the potential for their concept in the set-up.
The change from a young boy who was liked by his parents but uneasy about his surroundings and a criminal who kills and destroys without any conscience would be an exciting one. There’s a lot of drama and emotions in the story; from it, one could write a compelling story. However, Brightburn forgoes the drama and creates Brandon as evil because he has the power to.
The story is well-staged and suspensefully acted, yet traditional horror is in many films about evil children, such as the cliche about the mother who is blinded by love and who doesn’t believe in anyone who claims to believe that something is going on with their son. The film isn’t terrible, but there is nothing original. In addition, the film does not have an actual climax towards the end. The showdown at the conclusion (so you can say it) gets over too fast and without any drama. However, the actual ending and its implications are nicely executed.
Despite the familiar way, the above-average casting keeps the film from slipping into the abyss of boring horror films. Elizabeth Banks and David Denman are convincing as parents, and the latter portrays the deconstructed mother convincingly. The cast supporting them also performs well, even though the script doesn’t leave each of them as having particular issues. The only exception is Jackson A. Dunn, who plays Brandon and is a standout little. The boy’s sharp stare is more than terrifying before his transformation, and he rarely changes much as the world around him changes massively.
Very well-crafted are the design and aesthetics in the production. In no way does anyone look at the tiny budget of just $7 million. Special effects, particularly the sometimes crude Splatter effects, don’t have to be concealed. The same goes for the camera, as well as editing and direction. One can tell from Brightburn Brightburn that it is clear that there were no rookies in the studio. The music is not exceptional. However, it does its job and serves its purpose as an atmosphere booster exceptionally well.
Brightburn: Son Of Darkness is a excellent representation from the genre horror. It’s superior to the standard mass-produced jumpscare that we are typically offered 1 to 2 times per month. However, the critic’s heart is aching at the idea of the huge potential given away by the extravagant concept, just to return to the old ways of doing things. There could have been much more to the film. Additionally, the film isn’t a great conclusion. It’s too fast and ends too quickly. For fans of genres, definitely worth a look; however, you shouldn’t anticipate anything revolutionary.