A couple that lives in a rural area struggles to conceive a child, but one night, they discover a crashed spaceship containing a baby that they choose to raise as their own. The child is revealed to have great powers. But in spite of their best efforts…young Clark…uh… Brandon is corrupted by his power to do awful things.
So, yeah, Brightburn is basically, what if Superman was inherently evil. This is not a terribly original idea, though not one I am really opposed to being explored. But if you are going to explore Dark Superman, I would rather you do it with a stand in, like the Gunn Brothers and director David Yarovesky have done here.
They use some interesting symbolism (early in the film there is talk of a wasp that inserts their offspring into other hives). Visually, they stay very simple, with a clear Superman analog, the visual effects work quite well.
The performances are pretty strong. Denman is able to sell a father who knows something is wrong, but is unsure how to handle it. Meanwhile, Banks really clicks as the devoted mother who sees her son as a blessing and cannot accept he might be something darker.
And the story is dark. Among the creepier aspects is the hints of his twisted crush on a fellow student…and it insinuates a creepy future plan from Brandon for her (but thankfully the film never indulges in this…it is more subtextual). Jackson Dunn starts out sympathetic, but switches gears early on to be super creepy.
I enjoyed the film as a grim take on Superheroes and it works pretty well on it’s own. It is the Superman film Zack Snyder wishes he had made. An uncomfortable, creepy horror version of Superman, and it really does work quite well.