The above image is scarier than anything else in David Yarovesky’s Brightburn. It’s a haunting piece of imagery that comes during a dream sequence. There, I just saved you money and time, because it’s the only effective moment in this otherwise cheap and nasty slasher movie. The dream sequence itself only exists to serve horror imagery that is more interesting and frightening than anything in the rest of the movie.
Brightburn has a great premise, flipping the Superman story upside-down and suggesting that the alien/human that crash-landed on earth and raised by a couple on a farm turned out to be evil. That concept is begging for a movie with even a remote inkling of ambition. Instead, the premise is plastered onto the blueprint of a bad Friday the 13th sequel.
Once I realized the movie was going to play, beat-for-beat, exactly as the cynical part of my brain expected, I slipped down in my seat in dread. You know when you have to just wait for a movie to lurch to its inevitable conclusion? Sure enough, after a string of tropes poorly connected into a feature film, Brightburn ends on a note that is so sour and cynical it basically feels like a giant “fuck you” to the audience.
When I say that Brightburn is a cheap and nasty slasher movie, I do mean that, but I want to be clear that slasher movies are not inherently bad. I see a lot of critics referring to something as a slasher in association with the film’s quality. Scream is a slasher and it’s one of the best movies ever made. I use the term here, not only to give the reader a sense of what kind of film this is, but to demonstrate the unimaginative way the filmmakers decided to craft this story. It’s a concept dripping with possibilities, and Yarovesky and co. decided to make a movie about a creepy kid who slashes characters one by one in sensationally graphic and bloody ways. I love horror, but this is just lazy.