‘Brightburn’ Movie Review: A Creepy Horror Story with a Superhero Twist

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“I will never turn against our son,” says Tori Breyer (Elizabeth Banks). “He’s not our son,” insists her husband, Kyle (David Denman), as they argue about what their adopted son Brandon is becoming in the horror film, Brightburn.

Tori and Kyle have wanted a child for years and one night as they’re attempting to make one something crashes into their farm. Jump ahead 10 years and Kyle and Tori are raising their adopted son Brandon (Jackson A. Dunn) who’s celebrating his 12th birthday.

It’s at his birthday that Brandon begins acting differently. He starts mouthing off to his father about a present he wants, and begins to withdraw some from Tori and Kyle who he’s always been close to. Brandon also notices other changes that he keeps hidden from his parents…like his ability to fly, having heat vision, and being incredibly strong.

One night Tori finds Brandon in the barn where he’s discovered what’s left of a spaceship. He asks about his real identity and where he came from. Tori finally reveals to the child she’s raised that he arrived in the spaceship that crashed on their property. They took him in as their own son because they had wanted a child for so long.


Initially, Brandon’s upset to learn the truth. However, not long after Brandon realizes everyone on Earth is inferior to him. He decides to do whatever’s necessary to conquer mankind and take the planet for his own.

Brightburn deals with the question of what if a child from another world crash–landed on Earth but instead of becoming a superhero became something deadly, sinister, and virtually unstoppable instead. The R-rated genre-bender is a dark, suspenseful, and at times gory horror film that has more in common with Richard Donner’s 1976 movie The Omen in style and feel than any superhero film.

Brightburn star Elizabeth Banks

Tori Breyer (Elizabeth Banks) in Screen Gems’ ‘Brightburn’ (Photo by Boris Martin © 2019 CTMG, Inc)

Elizabeth Banks gives a powerful performance as Tori, the loving mother who adores her adopted son but slowly starts to realize (to her horror) he’s becoming extremely dangerous and deadly. He’s a preteen with zero empathy, conscience, or morals, and the question of how to handle that discovery drives her actions.

Jackson A. Dunn is very effective as Brandon, the boy from outer space who as he begins to hit puberty starts to realize who and what he really is and what he wants to be to mankind. Dunn captures both the bright and likeable side of Brandon and later the eerie, sociopathic, and evil side of his personality.

Disturbing and gruesome, Brightburn is a strongly acted, well-paced film that puts a terrifying twist on the superhero genre that’s sure to creep out the audience. See it, if you dare.

GRADE: B

MPAA Rating: R for horror violence/bloody images, and language

Release Date: May 24, 2019

Directed By: David Yarovesky

Running Time: 1 hour 31 minutes




Kevin Finnerty

Professional film critic since 2003 and a member of the San Diego Film Critics Society. Host of “The Movie Guys” radio film review show from 2007 through 2013. Film and television critic for Showbizjunkies.com and a movie buff since 1973.
Kevin Finnerty
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