In the Superman tradition an alien foundling gets blasted off to Earth to save the cute little guy's life. We get a hint of this re-casting of the Superman narrative when young Brandon (Jackson A. Dunn) in a school lesson mentions that a particular kind of wasp places her egg in the nest of an unsuspecting wasp of another species. He mentions that the sneaky wasp is a predator. We are warned for fair. A foundling, Brandon, in the new, more ominous version of the tale, comes to Earth for a very different purpose than the baby in the original story.
The only famous actor in “Brightburn” is Elizabeth Banks. She has served in many recent films, including her brilliant role as Effie Trinket in the “Hunger Games” films. She has the Mrs. Kent place in the new, more frightening tale. The rest of the cast consists of children and not yet famous actors.
Director David Yarovesky only has his single previous film “The Hive” on his sheet. Sean Gunn had a leading role in “The Hive” which gets a nod early in the film. Sean Gunn is the brother of “Brightburn” writer Brian Gunn and cousin of co-writer Mark Gunn.
Among the producers of “Brightburn” we find writer Brian Gunn, his very famous brother James Gunn (“Guardians of the Galaxy”) and writer cousin Mark Gunn. Sometimes in Hollywood having talented family members pays a bonus.
At the very end of the film we have the gift of about one minute of Michael Rooker. Rooker played in both “Guardians of the Galaxy” films, written and directed by James Gunn. It all comes together.
In scary movies the trick is to keep the tension building until the final reveal. Since everyone in the audience knows more or less what to expect, it must be done with style, panache and at least one very talented actor. Elizabeth Banks supplies the acting talent, sufficient to carry an otherwise ordinary scary movie all the way to the end.
When I leave the theater smiling I count the film a success. I did. It is.
“Brightburn” had a tiny $6 million budget and runs a short one hour and 31 minutes. This three sawblade movie has a hard R rating for very well done gore and tense situations. R ratings mean that the kids should stay home.
Good news for scary movie fans comes from Sam Raimi (“Army of Darkness”, “Evil Dead”). He will be bring us “Crawl”, a film in which a hurricane tossed alligator menaces people in their home in Florida. Can't wait.