Film: BrightBurn

Cast: Elizabeth Banks, David Denman, Jackson A. Dunn, Jennifer Holland, Matt Jones, Meredith Hagner, Becky Wahlstrom, Gregory Alan Williams, Steve Agee, Emmie Hunter

Director: David Yarovesky

Rating : * * * and a half

The Superman origins tale is subverted with the addition of the “evil child” and slasher subgenres of horror in this macabre tale of unconditional (maternal) love and death.

Adoptive parents Tori and Kyle Breyer ( (Elizabeth Banks and David Denman) love their son and try to raise him as best as they can. But the title of Keats’ poem “La belle dame sans merci” could well be applied to the pubescent boy who is pitiless, merciless and remorseless to boot. Just why the Breyers have been unable to instil any good into the boy is a mystery. Or maybe not.

“I want to do good, ” 12 year old Brandon (Jackson A. Dunn) tells his mother but doesn’t mean a word. He tells lies. Shamelessly. You’d like to make excuses for the vile child but you remember that Satan is the Father of all Lies. The fact is that Brandon is a changeling, an alien from outer space, but how does that matter? The universe is a moral, well ordered entity and chaos is diabolical. As is the cold, calculating,emotionless creature who revels in callous self-satisfaction as he embarks on an unholy killing spree. The saddest thing is none of the adults are bad and deserved to be slaughtered.

Plot and character could have been tightly knit into a finely tuned script but alas, it falters. For an alien endowed with superhuman strength, Brandon is unable to break open a padlock in the barn. But he can move at superspeed, materialise, vanish, and use his vision to burn and kill in the most gory ways imaginable. Puppy ‘love’ is followed up by stalking and even breaking the hand of the hapless object of his interest, pretty classmate, Caitlyn (Emmie Hunter) Her mother is not so lucky. Nor is the audience. Squirm in your seat and avert your eyes as I did. A final thought: The title has Luciferian implications. And Brandon Breyer is a metaphor for ISIS.