Interview: BRIGHTBURN Director David Yarovesky on His Superhero Horror Film
One week from today, the superhero horror film Brightburn will be swooping into theaters. Produced by James Gunn (Slither, Guardians of the Galaxy) and written by Gunn brothers Mark and Brian with music by Tim Williams (interview), the film is looking to inject some serious chills into a genre that has been, for the past decade, almost exclusively all about hope and determination.
“What if a child from another world crash-landed on Earth, but instead of becoming a hero to mankind, he proved to be something far more sinister?“
Written by Mark and Brian Gunn and produced by James Gunn with David Yarovesky directing, Brightburn stars Elizabeth Banks, David Denman, and Matt Jones.
It comes to theaters on May 24.
Dread Central: David, I’ve opted to avoid every single teaser, trailer, clip, and article about Brightburn because I’m so excited to see it completely blind. What are your thoughts regarding the way movies push a load of content out prior to a release in order to build up interest?
David Yarovesky: I am the exact same way. If I am excited about a movie I stop watching everything, often mid-trailer, because I want to go see that movie without knowing anything. That being said, audiences are diverse, and their tastes and needs are diverse. Look at Titanic. I remember the trailers for that because they showed the ENTIRE movie, and there is a section of the audience that wants to know what they are going to see, and you have to speak to them also.
I think the best way to address this is to embrace it. As a fan I don’t have a 2-hour relationship with a film, I have a 6-month relationship with a film. Every time I see a piece of marketing material it has the power to excite me, raise questions, build anticipation, play with expectations, etc… When we started talking about this movie I kept saying, “CLOVERFIELD CLOVERFIELD CLOVERFIELD.” I just loved the way they marketed that movie, and I saw a relationship between this movie and that movie. If you just read a blurb that we were making a “superhero horror” movie, it would have been a very lame reveal. I wanted the first time you learned about this movie to be a sucker punch to the face.
DC: Since I know very little about the movie – pretty much the basic premise – how would you try and describe the film without giving too much away?
DY: I would tell them it’s a fun, light-hearted family film, and then I would strap them into the chair and play the movie. That’s likely why I’m not in marketing, I just make the movie, haha!
DC: In this cinematic age of superheroes and supervillains, what do you think makes Brightburn such an interesting story?
DY: There have been many dark superhero tales and plenty of villains with superpowers, but we have never seen a superhero story told as a shit-your-pants horror movie. At this point, we have all been indoctrinated into believing that if someone started handing out superpowers that they would be used for good. It’s a lie. The cake is not real. Santa Claus is your parents. And if an alien baby lands in the woods RUN FOR YOUR FUCKING LIFE.
DC: The world of horror seems to blend so well with pretty much every single film genre. What were the ways you got to play with horror tropes and expectations while working with the world of a superhero?
DY: The first seed of a visual I had in my mind was shooting Brandon like John Carpenter shoots Michael Meyers; wide lens, emotionless, watching from the distance. I have never seen a superhero shot like that, and I thought I could make that scary as hell.
That was the seed from which the visual language of the movie grew and became Brightburn. The idea was taking something that you always felt safe with, and making it something you would run screaming from.
DC: When you think of Brightburn, do you find yourself considering it more of a superhero film or more in the horror genre?
DY: It’s something new, a superhero horror film.
DC: Which of these powers would you rather have: the ability to fly BUT you start a major fire 100ft in diameter every time you take off OR telekinesis BUT everything you use your power on is damaged in some way, shape, or form.
DY: That’s easy: telekinesis. My turn! If we discovered tomorrow that eating buckets of dog vomit with your hands caused random superpowers, would you eat the buckets of vomit to attain a superpower? Think about it and let me know!