Brightburn (2 stars)


Elizabeth Banks brings real intensity to an otherwise middling, James Gunn-produced superhero horror

The glut of superhero movies continues with Brightburn, a low-budget indie born from a familiar idea: a young boy discovers that he has super powers. The twist is that David Yarovesky's latest is a horror film, so the boy starts terrorising the local residents in extremely gory ways. Brightburn's coming-of-age story plays like Superman fused with Carrie but, even with some eye-catching effects, the result is less than luminous.

In the small, dismal town of Brightburn, Kansas, Tori and Kyle Breyer (Elizabeth Banks and David Denman) want a child, and they get one when a spaceship crashes near their farm. Brandon (Jackson A Dunn) is so strong he can stick his hand into a spinning set of blades with impunity. As puberty approaches, however, Brandon's growing frustration with small-town life threatens to unleash a torrent of violence against those he feels have wronged him.

Guardians of the Galaxy's James Gunn acts as producer here; his search for writing talent leading him as far as his brother Brian and his cousin Mark, whose previous credit together was 2012's Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. Sadly, their script lacks meaningful twists or surprises: Brandon is bad to the bone, and that's all there is to it. Only Banks makes something memorable of her character, bringing real intensity to Tori's growing distrust of her wayward son.

Universe-building feels distinctly unappetising when what's on offer so slavishly reworks tired clichés. Some good, gruesome effects might please the horror crowd yet, despite flipping the Superman myth, Brightburn is just too dull to pass the time. James Gunn was recently at the centre of a social media storm regarding his outrageous tweets, but it's arguably more creatively damaging to be associated with such a middling effort.

General release from Wed 19 Jun.


  • 2 stars
  • 2019
  • US
  • 1h 30min
  • 15
  • Directed by: David Yarovesky
  • Cast: Elizabeth Banks, David Denman, Jackson A Dunn

Brandon (Dunn) is a small boy born in a small Texas town who develops superhuman powers; unfortunately, he then uses them to terrorise the locals. Despite some eye-catching effects, it’s a tired and middling effort. Banks, who brings real intensity as Brandon’s mother, is wasted.