BRIGHTBURN – Review by Susan Granger

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Since superhero origin stories and subversive horror movies dominate the box-office, it’s not surprising that someone came up with a clever premise that combines both genres.

About a dozen years ago in the rural town of Brightburn, Kansas, a childless couple – Tori (Elizabeth Banks) and Kyle (David Denman) Breyer – realize a meteor has crashed on their farm. Aboard is a healthy baby boy – a heaven-sent answer to their prayers.

Naming him Brandon, they tell people he’s that he’s adopted. Now, as Brandon (Jackson A. Dunn) approaches puberty, strange things seem to be happening to him.

While helping his dad with chores, when he accidentally throws a lawnmower 100 yards across a field, Brandon smugly realizes, “I’m special.”

So he decides to stalk a pretty classmate, Caitlyn (Emmie Hunter), who once sympathized with him when he was teased for being so smart. Putting it mildly, Caitlyn is not pleased. Indeed. She calls him a pervert, dropping him during a ‘trust fall’ exercise in gym. So Brandon crushes the bones in her hand after she’s forced to help him up.

Brandon soon becomes defiant, manipulative and, eventually, homicidal, wearing a cape fashioned out of the blanket he was wrapped in as a baby. Is it all somehow, inexplicably, connected to that malevolent space pod, vibrating and glowing in a locked cellar in the barn?

Director David Yarovesky (The Hive) turns Superman into the Bad Seed – on a thrifty $6 million budget – under the supervision of producer James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy), whose brother Brian Gunn and cousin Mark Gunn wrote the warped, formulaic screenplay, focusing on grisly gore, never delving into the creepy concept of an evil superhero, capable of mass destruction.

Brightburn was originally scheduled for release last November but scuttled after Disney fired James Gunn and cancelled his appearance at San Diego’s Comic-Con.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, Brightburn is a fright flick 4 – with a sinister end credits sequence that signals a sequel is in the works.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.