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Byron Shire
August 15, 2022

Cinema Review: Brightburn

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Rule #1: If you are travelling in the US, don’t go anywhere near Kansas – nothing good ever happens there. Rule #2: If you are an actor up for a gig in a horror flick such as this, steer clear of the role of small-town sheriff – your guts are bound to end up splattered everywhere. Tori and Kyle (Elizabeth Banks, David Denman) are a childless couple living on a Midwest farm. A rocket crashes into a nearby paddock one night and they adopt the baby boy that is in it as their own – setting up a ‘what if Superman turned out to be bad?’ scenario. To the story’s immense benefit, director David Yarovesky takes his time in revealing the malevolence and superhuman power of little Brandon (Jackson A Dunn). Concentrating instead on establishing the close family dynamic, it is only when Brandon has sudden temper tanties – at school when he is bugged by a girl, in a restaurant when Dad will not allow him to accept the birthday gift of a rifle – that the boy’s irrational behaviour threatens danger to all. This is so much better than your average sci-fi horror, primarily because of the character development and the cold-blooded murderousness of Brandon (a bit like the kid in We Need To Talk About Kevin). When push comes to shove, and Yarovesky needs to unleash the essential violence of the genre, he does it with incredible impact. The waitress pulling a sherd of glass from her eye after a fluoro light has exploded above her head is simply unwatchable, and the sight of Brandon’s uncle losing his bloodied jaw in a car smash-up is enough to make the most hardened viewer look away, but the film never turns into a gore-fest. As the loyal mom, Banks, as always, is delightful, while Denman as the worried father has you on his side throughout. The last shot suggests that a sequel is inevitable and I for one can’t wait to see how the little bastard will be stopped.

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