We’ve had superhero comedies, romcoms and Westerns, so it was only a matter of time before we got a true superhero horror. This low-budget effort leans heavily on jump scares and creeps before engaging with its premise, but when it does it’s as chilling as Superman’s freezing breath.
Tori (Elizabeth Banks) and Kyle Breyer (David Denham) are a married couple struggling to conceive when their prayers are apparently answered by an apparent meteor containing a baby boy. They raise the alien as their own, but when Brandon (Jackson A Dunn) turns 12 he starts exhibiting strange behaviour: superior strength, violent tendencies and sleepwalking. And that’s only the beginning.
Director David Yarovesky and producer James Gunn find some effective beats here, with their pre-adolescent villain making a chilling pass at a middle-school classmate and acting out violently when she recoils. Dunn’s fixed stare and quietude give Brandon a deeply unsettling edge, though the storytelling is unclear on whether he was always a dissembling sociopath or if the Breyers’ good son was effectively erased when his powers came to life. There’s none of the ethical wrestling over the use of his powers that made ‘Chronicle’ such a joy; just a near-immediate escalation from honour student to stalker/killer in a series of remarkably gory scenes.
Despite the brisk 90-minute runtime, the slow-burn build-up sometimes feels too slow. At least there’s no arguing with the last act, as Brandon gives into his instincts and we get to see what a ‘Man of Steel’ would do if he was unrestrained by a devotion to truth, justice or the American way.