Brightburn (2019): ‘A Super Hero Horror’ – A Film Review


2018 was such a good time for Horror movies. 2019, thus far has given little in the way of continuing this. There have been remakes, Pet Sematary, and it looks like more are to come – Child’s Play. But, truly gut wrenching, effective original and twisted Horror – not so much. Brightburn is a reworking of a certain super hero‘s origin story and owes more to the long enduring but somewhat stale legacy of the Super Hero film. Written by TV writers Brian Gunn and Mark Gunn and Directed by The Hive Director, David Yarovesky, with star Elizabeth Banks and cram it into the 90minute run time and make it fit the 15 certificate, R-rating for US, and you have yourselves Brightburn.



If the runtime or certification seemed a little funny then, already, you’re on to the right track. Brightburn seems determined to rush into things, only to slow down before letting itself finish, rather unremarkably. Customary for many sub-par Horror films, the tone is set with scenes that will recall later ones, but they establish the film as a Horror with scenes that really don’t need to carry the Horror stamp at all. Unfortunately, rushing into this tone sacrifices character development. As such, an audience doesn’t necessarily connect with the characters, unless the actors do an amazing job with the limited screen time they have. This varies depending on the cast: Elizabeth Banks can hold this, David Denman not so much, whilst Jackson A. Dunn flips between the two.


The Sub-Par Horror

Further problems arise with that certification. Tension drags and some creative deaths occur, but the visceral gore, violence or extended terror isn’t on show and does not take hold. Again, many sub-par Horror films seem to do this, conscious of certification and not the audience, they hold back when the punches need to count. This is a real shame, because the concept has some merit. A twist on the Super Hero genre with a horror element, where super powers can be just as evil as good – it’s a great idea. Brightburn just doesn’t know what to do with this. If they’d committed to a single protagonist they could have made this more interesting. SPOILERS Telling the story from either the mothers or the son’s perspective would have been more interesting. Exploring the Horror of what he is. END OF SPOILERS.



Brightburn, could be an effective Horror if it knew how to be. If Brightburn knew how to create likeable characters it could have still managed as a film. However, Brightburn struggles to develop anything of what it looks into or sets up. In a sense it comes across as a darkly comic parody of Super Hero Movies. This humour misplaced and coming instead from fumbling through the scenes and using cliché after cliché without any sense of world building or character development. If it wants to comment on anything DC (really, why DC?) has done, it fails to. Brightburn merely lives in the shadows of what it could have been and all the other good, or even just average, Horror films around it.



An alien lands to earth and is adopted by a family as he appears in all ways human. Later they all start to realise that he is in fact stronger, more agile and more airborne than the rest of humanity.




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A Note on My Reviews

Please read ‘On Reviews‘ for a guide to how I write film reviews. Any spoilers are appropriately marked and, though I personally prefer to know little about a film before seeing it, there is a synopsis below the review for any who wish to see one.


Films Mentioned

Brightburn (d. David Yarovesky USA 2019)

Child’s Play (d. Lars Klevberg France/Canada/USA 2019)

Pet Sematary (d. Kevin Kölsch, Dennis Widmyer USA 2019)

The Hive (d. David Yarovesky USA 2014)


Further Reading

Official Site

Interview with David Yarovesky

Interview with the Cast

Interview with the Writers

Behind the Scenes Interviews

What Would You Do

Easter Eggs


If you liked this

IT (2017): ‘Horror or Comedy, Pennywise?’ – A Film Review

Us (2019): ‘A Horror without Horror’ – A Film Review

Happy Death Day 2U (2019): ‘A Step Back in Horror Filmmaking’ – A Film Review

This was an analytical review of….


Brightburn (d. David Yarovesky USA 2019)

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