Sunday 5 September 2010


Tiger + Hurricane + trapped in a boarded up house = Bad Luck. Out now on DVD is Burning Bright.
Watch the trailer and read my review after the jump...

Kelly (Briana Evigan) is trying to do the right thing and make sure her young autistic brother Tom (Charlie Tahan) gets the care and schooling he deserves. She's been offered a scholarship for college, but needs to make sure Tom is okay first. She'd like to use the inheritance money her deceased mother left her to pay for Tom's care, but it's in the hands of her loser stepfather Johnny (Garret Dillahunt), who decides he'd rather spend the money on a tiger.

Johnny's a small town guy with big dreams, and is planning on launching his own safari park on the land he's inherited with Lucifer the tiger as his snarling showpiece. He couldn't care less about the two step-children he's been left with, they're just getting in the way of his dream. We're introduced to the caged tiger fairly early on, sold to the gullible Johnny by its eager to sell owner (a brief cameo by Meatloaf). It's a ravenous beast that's been starved for the last two weeks, and has a deadly history of violence.

To add to Kelly's woes there's a hurricane approaching, and Johnny sees an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone, or rather two hangers-on with one tiger. The house gets boarded up to avoid storm damage, and Johnny's certainly not going to leave his prize possession out in the elements, setting him free to roam the house like a game preserve. As ideas for films go, this is one you have to see once you've heard the concept.

By using familiar elements from slasher films Burning Bright offers some truly suspense filled set-pieces, such as Kelly crawling her way up a laundry chute to avoid the clawing beast at the bottom. There's also a scene where Kelly and Tom hide in the closet (like in Halloween), but Lucifer is able to sniff out his prey quite easily. In many ways it's a traditional stalk and slash thriller, with a dash of Gremlins and Jurassic Park thrown in. Lucifer could just as easily be Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees, except he's on all fours. 

Kelly's command of Tom also reminded me of Panic Room, except here there's no safe place to hide. Lucifer's a big fella who can chew his way through walls. The damsel in distress also spends a lot of time running around in her underwear, never catching a moment to put on some clothes; another classic staple of slasher films. In an interesting development of the concept, the kid gets on her nerves and slows down her escape, and she's not afraid to show her weariness of his condition. His autism has become her burden, and she has to fight off the urge to leave him behind.

Don't expect a lot of gore, as that's the one area where this film doesn't deliver. Burning Bright is all about the tension, and it does rise towards a satisfying climax. This is a fantastically suspenseful idea, and one that delivers on its high-concept.


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