Sometimes, the best ideas to offer something different and at the same time attractive in the world of cinema have to do with subverting an already existing and widely disseminated story in order to obtain a result that, without necessarily being original, is at least novel.
That’s exactly what happens with “Brightburn,” a striking encounter between superhero and horror cinema whose basic premise is to imagine what would have happened if Superman had not been of noble origin, but a being of evil intent, with all that the matter implies; in other words, this is a story of the origin of what could easily be a supervillain, although in this case there is no superhero in sight.
What makes this film have strong ties to the horror genre is not only that, unlike most of the cinematic deliveries about modern layered vigilantes and masks, it has an adult rating (after all, we’ve already had the two adventures of Deapool and “Logan”), but it appeals to much more sinister elements than any nearby production, among which there are marked ‘gore’ touches.
According to online pokies the script written by Mark Gunn and Brian Gunn – James Gunn’s cousin and brother (“Slither”, “Guardians of the Galaxy”), who produces – never tries to hide his cards under the table. From the beginning, it is revealed to us that we are in Kansas (although the shooting was in Georgia) and we are presented with a couple of farmers adopting a baby from space, that is, two circumstances intimately linked to the mythology of the Man of Steel, at least since the release of the decisive film of 1978 (because other versions located the town of Smallville in Iowa or Maryland).
Later, at the age of 12, Brandon (as the boy is called) begins to discover that he has certainly exceptional physical faculties, which is also consistent with Clark Kent’s fictitious experiences. But his way of dealing with these wonderful findings is far from benevolent; at the end of the day, he doesn’t seem to have adapted very well to the human world. And there’s something about her genetic conditioning that doesn’t point to the well-being of any living being on this planet.
But the important thing is that he never loses sight of what he really is, nor does he leave aside his vocation for entertainment, thus moving away from what someone like M. Night Shyamalan could have done with his plot.
Once Brandon begins to make his own, we forget about the good Clark/Kal-El and plunge into a chilling roller coaster that sometimes achieves violence worthy of the harshest and bloodiest offers of the horror school, without this preventing evidently intentional tributes to genre classics like “The Omen” and “Carrie” from leaking through here and there.
“Brighburn” has the wisdom to adequately develop its characters in a first part that may seem a little slow, but that becomes the right prelude to a series of conflicts that, once unleashed, are as shocking as they are captivating. And when that happens, instead of backtracking to try to soften the events that occur and thereby alleviate the viewer, the plot steps on the pedal in the background, which is highly unusual in Hollywood commercial productions.
Apart from the effectiveness of a story that is not free of defects (there are several loose ends and some unbelievable circumstances), the film stands out for the striking staging of David Yarovesky, a young director who had previously been in charge of the little-known “The Hive” and who shows an enormous talent for these purposes. Without overdoing the visual pirouettes, Yarovesky realizes a dynamic style in which influences from masters like John Carpenter and Brian De Palma are noticed, and which frequently adopts the point of view of the victims to reinforce the scares.
Finally, the film relies on the achievements of a competent cast in which the experienced Elizabeth Banks (notable) and David Benman (totally convincing) never disappoint, who play parents who are as confused as they are well-intentioned, but who place Jackson A in front. Dunn, a teenager who had been briefly present in “Avengers: Endgame” (where he played Scott Lang in his childhood) and who now assumes with fortitude a complicated role in which he moves from innocence to indifference and from intentional manipulation to the most extreme cruelty.