There's a saying that comic book heroes are the modern equivalent to Greek gods, and I believe it. They are stories about humans with cosmic powers (or at least with a better advantage) who try and do good with the common people and stop forces of evil. What makes them fascinating that in another timeline, they could have gone bad and have become a threat to humanity. This isn't exactly the first time this has been suggested as comic books have talked about that fine line superheroes walks and how close they are to going to the other side.
One such story is an alternate take on Superman called Red Son, where instead of being raised in Kansas in America, he's raised in the Soviet Union as a national symbol for their country. It was a phenomenal exploration on what could have been if the Earth had been in a different position when the son of Krypton came. That not only changes the story and tone, but that almost turns the series from an adventure into a thriller. Though we'll never know what Superman would be like as evil, we do come close to an idea in the superhero/horror, Brightburn.
Local farmers Tori (played by Elizabeth Banks) and Kyle Breyer (played by David Denman) are trying to conceive a child when they hear a crash. Inside the small ship, they find a child they decide to raise as their own. The child grows into Brandon (played by Jackson A. Dunn), a bright twelve year-old who seems to enjoy his life and parents. He goes to school, sketches, has crushes, and seems to be like any other boy in his class. As his birthday approaches, he starts to hear voices that encourages him to test his seemingly invulnerable body. He realizes he's not like other kids.
Though his parents see that his personality is changing and they even see pictures of the human body under his bed, they dismiss it as upcoming puberty and curiosity into girls. But as Brandon seems to sleepwalk more and shows no remorse over things he does, his father starts to suspect a dark side in his son. Animals and even humans start to get killed off and the parents look into Brandon and how his powers (flight, speed, laser eyes, etc…) are showing just how dangerous he can be. Can his mother still love him when her child is capable of destroying cities?
What makes Brightburna good movie is it's willingness to have some fun with it's idea. Yes, it's a horror, but I would count this as a coming of age story. Because of this, this gives a chance for young actor Jackson A. Dunn to really shine with his two different personalities on screen; one of a young naiveté searching for his place and another of a dark demon. Think if young Damian from The Omenhad a voice. It's effective in being scary and sympathetic.
Another way to describe the story is something similar to a Stephen King book. It has a similar premise of a ordinary character dealing with a supernatural phenomenon, and yet tries to understand it, despite not being the smartest one. This is where Elizabeth Banks and David Denman stand as good examples of screen parents that are well written. There have their flaws, like the father being hard and the mom being highly protective, but this is the nature of a lot of people, especially those from the Midwest. You want to see them figure out their son even if you think they could have done things different.
Brightburnis a good, entertaining turn on superhero movies. Good, but not great. I can't image what great things you can do with this. If I had any qualms with it, then I wished it would have taken a few more unpredictable turns for the child rather then going dark too quickly. It's definitely for those want a spooky good time and maybe even a good drama to go with it. It's a movie that builds something dangerous and ends with something that could become even deadlier. If this movie gets a sequel I hope it follows up on the child's story and the consequence of his actions.
I'll give this four symbols out of five. Would I count this as terrifying? Not in my eye, but I can see those that are easy to scare getting a jump. Brightburndoes count as a good starter for those that want to watch more horror movies, but want something lighter. Check it out and be nice to your neighbor…you never know if they have super speed.