Have Gunn, Will Travel: a review of Brightburn: Son of Evil
With this latest, Columbia Pictures’ Brightburn: Son of Evil, you have to hand it to James Gunn and his brood (his younger brother Brian, and cousin Mark, wrote the screenplay). Known for his Guardians of the Galaxy film franchise, James is credited as producer of, and David Yarovesky directs, this rather unique mash-up of the superhero and horror genres. And for a good 4/5ths of the film, it does take us on a strange and exhilirating journey, marred only by a final act that lacks enough of a visceral punch - but more on that later.
The film’s premise is simple, yet breathtaking; and you kinda wonder why is it happening only now. Tori Breyer (Elizabeth Banks) and husband Kyle (David Denman) pine and pray for a child that just hasn’t happened; and one fateful night, a spacecraft crashes near their Kansas farmhouse, delivering a baby boy. Prayer answered, right, and shades of Superman as it slowly dawns on us that this unassuming child has some unearthly powers.
But rather than replicating Superman or other superhero tropes, this Breyer son Brandon (Jackson Dunn) hits puberty, and all these twisted and sadistic urges appear - and let’s not forget his superpowers. So, from out of left field, we’re given shades of The Omen and Carrie.
I’m not going to give any more of the plot away; but let your imagination run wild on where the Gunns and Yarovesky will take us. The requisite jump scares are effective and come in alarming frequency - visceral, bloody, and making us wince with regularity. You’ll love how the filmmakers make our standard superhero powers suddenly malignant and full of foreboding. Laser vision becomes demon eyes! Flying now appears ghostly and ominous, while super strength is horrifying and fills us normals with trepidation.
I mentioned the final act of the film, and it’s here where I felt some miscalculation was made. The flying in tandem CGI just lacks oomph; and it’s anticlimactic. After all we’ve invested in the strong Mother-Son relationship, this seems too basic a way to end it. But admittedly, that’s my personal take, and you may disagree.
But without a doubt, the getting to that point, is one hell of a ride - emphasis on hell! If this film succeeds, look for Brandon to return, as the Gunns hope this kickstarts a new film franchise.