Alien superhero story – with a twist
What if Ma and Pa Kent had rescued and adopted a juvenile Kryptonian delinquent? In “Blackburn,” Tori and Kyle Breyer (Elizabeth Banks, David Denman) adopt Brandon (Jackson Dunn) whose capsule crashed on the outer reaches of the Breyer farm.
As he matures, Brandon discovers an immunity to pain (by sticking his hand in a fan) and eats spoons and nails. His parents push his secret to the back of their minds. Eventually, he asks mom, “Where did I come from” and subsequently has a basement levitating sleepwalking episode in which he declares, “I’ll take the world.”
As red flares from his eyes, the 12-year-old recalls memories of Damien (“The Omen”) , but the David Yarovesky- (“Guardians of the Galaxy”) directed “Brightburn” dwells not on the supernatural, it’s closer to a superhero horror entry.
Brandon’s ‘dark side’ emerges slowly, mostly tied to inability to control anger. His increasingly malevolent nature emerges slowly, allowing Yarovesky to toy with emotions, especially Tori’s heartfelt hugs and defense long after her suspicions should have clicked in, despite motherly instincts.
An abundance of loving family dining together-type scenes holds interest and stretches core beliefs as the cold and shy young child pretends to still obey his parents. Meanwhile, mom and dad’s domestic disagreements fume from smoke to an inferno.
Staying in the down on the rural farm Superboy period retains the suspenseful restraint, as Brandon benefits from child innocence and benefit of the doubt syndrome, a common horror flick cliche. But, the brisk running time leaves some characters and circumstances lost in the darkness. Anger motivates Brandon’s evil self and erupts his powers (much like Hulk) yet the script glazes past bully revenge. His dark side has Jekyll/Hyde characteristics, and, unfortunately, the story does not explore theories for his evil conduct.