With Brightburn, James Gunn Is Aiming For ‘Truly Iconic Horror’

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With next month’s Brightburn, Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn returns to his horror roots, serving as producer on a project written by his brother Brian and his cousin Mark. Telling the story of a couple (Elizabeth Banks, David Denman) that adopt an alien child (Jackson A. Dunn), the film is an unlikely marriage of horror and the world’s most popular subgenre. “Brian and Mark were talking about doing this new take on the superhero myth,” Gunn told Entertainment Weekly. “It was a creepy, scary, almost independent-movie-type script. We just kept bashing this thing out for about six months, eight months before we got the script to a place where we thought, ‘Yeah, let’s go make that.’”

While the filmmaker doesn’t go into much detail about his role as producer, he clearly had at least one overriding preoccupation: the mask. “I just gave so many notes on that mask, trying to create a really truly iconic horror movie character in the same way that Freddy Krueger is, or in the same way that Leatherface is, or in the same way that Jason is,” Gunn explained. “Trying to create something with that same sort of feel that is instantly scary [and] plays with the superhero-ness of it all, but at the same time is most definitely rooted in horror.”

For director David Yarovesky (The Hive), matters were complicated by the fact that his wife, costume designer Autumn Steed, was responsible for designing that mask. “In the process of getting to the final result—that we’re all incredibly proud of—she was like a factory,” Yarovesky said. “She would just make so many different iterations of the mask. At a certain point, I came into her office, and her wall was wallpapered with iterations of the mask, just the evolution of it is crazy. I just think she did an incredible job.”

Brightburn arrives in theatres on May 24. Check out the trailer below.