FILM UNFILTERED – ‘Brightburn’ is an anti-hero thriller

FILM UNFILTERED – ‘Brightburn’ is an anti-hero thriller


The new movie “Brightburn” tells the story of a married couple unable to conceive a child when one literally falls from the sky onto their Kansas farm.

Tori Breyer, played by Elizabeth Banks, and her husband, Kyle (David Denman), take in this mysterious child and raise him as their own. Brandon grows up through a montage of video clips seemingly normal as can be, though somewhat shy and unsure of himself.

It becomes obvious that he seems to have developed an interest in a classmate and he is unsure of how to act upon those feelings. Complicating matters is that the spacecraft he arrived in, which is now hidden underneath the family barn, seems to be communicating with him at night causing him to sleepwalk and do other unnatural and odd things. After a particularly hostile physical outburst in school toward another student, Brandon begins to show signs not only of a rebellious nature, but perhaps of a more sinister disposition. The remainder of the movie charts his violent trajectory against anyone who rallies against or opposes him.

Comparisons to “Red Son” have been made to this movie, and I disagree. That limited comic book series from DC and Mark Millar asked the question: What would happen if Superman had landed in the Soviet Union? It was an interesting retelling of the familiar tale but with a markedly different spin. That story dealt with a young Superman being molded and controlled by a communist regime and not a young teen going off the rails.

The young actor (Jackson A. Dunn) who portrays Brandon has an unnerving quality about him much the way Damien did in the original “Omen” movies. He has a calming affront, hiding his lethal intent. His appetite for maliciousness only grows as does his power and strength as the film progresses. Dunn is a talented young performer and raises the fear easily. If the jump scares don’t get you then his relaxed expressions during intense sequences will.

Banks, who plays his mom, continues to baffle me as perhaps the actress in Hollywood who continues to make and pick the most varying choices in films. She seemingly shows up in the places you’d least expect, and she is probably one of the most diverse actresses in terms of roles. She was in “The Hunger Games,” “The Power Rangers” and “Love & Mercy” just as three examples and she was excellent in all those as she is here. Less of a factor is David Denman as Brandon’s dad. He really could’ve been expunged from the film and been a story of a single mom raising this boy.

This is a definite counter choice to the heroics of the Avengers and examines how even the seemingly nicest kid can get derailed and go down the wrong path. It’s not an exceptional film by any means – it probably could have gone straight to Netflix – but it’s solid enough as a psychological anti-hero horror/thriller.

The film is rated R.

Jackson A. Dunn plays the lead role of Brandon, an alien child who falls to earth and is adopted by a childless couple in “Brightburn.”