(On Cable TV, December 2019) Oh, yuck to Brightburn. I’ll be the first one to say that the commercial dominance of the superhero film is a creative dead-end, that it harms movies more than it benefits them, and that the sooner we get to something else the better off we’ll be. But that doesn’t mean that we need to extend the genre into an even worse one. The concept of blending super-powerful characters with kid/slasher horror is something that raises my hackles from the get-go, and nothing in Brightburn’s gleefully sadistic execution changes my mind about. Simply put, this is a film that wonders what would have happened if the Superman origins story (super-powerful alien crash-lands as a baby in Kansas, is raised by human parents) had led to a psychopathic character unable to be stopped by anyone. The result of this isn’t in doubt? Well, prepare to spend 90 minutes being reminded over and over of this obvious conclusion, except with enough gore and blood to make it even more obvious. Just in case you hadn’t figured it out. Of course, it’s unfair to compare Brightburn to a superhero film turned to horror—it’s far more honest to see the project (produced by famously gore-friendly filmmaker James Gunn) as a horror film looking to superheroes in its escalation of violence. Much of the structure of the film is borrowed from those hateful killer-kid movies, in which a child goes around killing playmates and adults while no one can believe that the adorable little cherubs could be capable of so much evil. Except that this time, our killer-kid can smash people with cars and punch holes in their heads with laser beams. The only bit of dramatic tension is about the killer-kid’s parents attempting to strangle baby-Hitler in the crib (so to speak), but since this is a sadistic film, you can probably imagine how that turns out. So yeah: yuck to that movie, and let’s hope that its existence is enough to stop other similar projects from taking off. No matter my growing antipathy to superhero film domination, I’m even less sympathetic to gore-filled horror films. I look forward to an era where I don’t have to check my humanity at the door before peeking at the newest film releases.