Burning Bright

Posted: November 9, 2010 by Jenny Dreadful in Film, Reviews

Burning Bright is a straight-to-video feature from relatively new director, Carlos Brooks, starring Briana Evigan. (Sorority Row and the upcoming Mother’s Day remake) The DVD was released on August 17th and we’re thrilled to say that this film features one of the most ridiculous premises seen in awhile. Are you ready for this? I sure hope so:

Kelly feels her life is unraveling. Her mother’s death has left her as the guardian of her autistic 12-year-old brother, Tom, and she’s just learned her stepfather pilfered her college fund to buy a tiger for his safari park. To make matters worse, a hurricane is cutting a swath of destruction toward her home. But Kelly has something greater to fear than the hurricane’s 120-mile-per-hour winds – the savage tiger has somehow slipped inside her house. Now, trapped inside their boarded-up home, Kelly and Tom must fight for their lives against a deadly man-eater who smells their fear…and wants their flesh.

Wow. Between that laughable plot description and the trailer, we were really excited about this one. Tiger in a house! In the eye of the Tiger-cane!!! One more in what we can only hope is a growing series of films pitting humans against dangerous animals in confined spaces. Amazing. We’re a bit late in getting this review out there, but we hope this will still help you compare the many “trapped in a house with a tiger” options to make an informed decision.

Jenny Dreadful’s Review:
The positive:

Burning Bright is a hell of a lot better than it has any right to be. Looking at the plot summary, I was expecting a pretty stupid movie. Something “so bad it’s good.” This film is surprisingly solid and manages to make its premise almost seem plausible. Almost. Unlike most animal attack movies, what we have here is a fun twist on the slasher formula. Insert a hungry tiger into the Michael Myers role and we’ve got it. I’m serious. OK, it doesn’t meet ALL of the trope requirements… a bunch of teenagers smoking pot and committing the crime of sex for instance*… but it’s very close. There’s the classic hiding under the bed scene, tense evasion while the killer stalks around in dark hallways and, as always, a Final Girl eventually forced to fight for her life. And although I can see how it might be problematic, the low-functioning autistic brother adds a good deal of tension to the story as the girl struggles to protect him and survive. More on that later.

Other aspects I liked; There are some awkward blue-screen moments here and there, but I was very happy to see a real tiger in this film instead of sub-par cgi. Even though the tiger and the actress never shared physical space during the filming, seeing the dangerous animal stalk around the typically safe home setting is effectively unsettling. Major points for that. One last thing. Say what you will about the man, a cameo by Meatloaf is always a plus for me.

The negative:

Well, anybody with a desire for plots that are believable will probably be turned off already. Although they manage to sell the nonsense premise beautifully, there are still some suspicious gaps in logic. Why would the character do X, when Y will clearly work out poorly for them? It’s easy for me to forgive these offenses, but I can see it driving some viewers insane.

The autistic brother element of the story could be irksome to some. The boy is a source of frustration at the best of times and severely impedes the heroine’s fight to escape at the worst. This compliments the story-arc very well, but what message is that sending about the mentally challenged? After some thorough discussion with a woman in a similar position to this protagonist (except for the tiger part), I gather the portrayal is fairly realistic. Still, we could have spent some more time getting to know the character as something other than an obstacle.

Would I recommend?

Yes, I would recommend this. It’s pretty simple. If the concept of a girl trapped inside a house with a tiger sounds like fun, this film is probably better than you’re expecting. If it sounds unbelievably stupid, it probably won’t win you over. If you’re looking for gore, you won’t find it.

Does it pass the Bechdel test?

No, it does not.

Burning Bright on IMDB

Burning Bright on Netflix

*Jason does NOT like sex, people. He hates it. If you like being alive, please control yourselves. It’s cold in the woods anyway.

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Comments
  1. ronBunxious says:

    Thanks for the write-up. Especially this:

    “If the concept of a girl trapped inside a house with a tiger sounds like fun, this film is probably better than you’re expecting.”

    Wow. Then I know I’d like to watch it.

    It sounds like it has some similarities to a movie I loved when I was younger: CUJO! Chased by a huge rabid dog in an isolated environ… A mother trying to protect/save her boy… A tiger in a house does sound a bit over the top, but that is way cool with me.

  2. Yeah, it’s not nearly as bad as it should be! I was pleasantly surprised. If you see it, come back and let us know what you thought?

    Man, I haven’t seen Cujo in forever. I need to revisit that one.

  3. ronBunxious says:

    I watched it. I liked it.

    The brother’s role wasn’t as annoying as I thought it would be, but added a wee bit of character development/insight. CGI wasn’t too too distracting, forgivable to me since the tone and my expectation-level was set in the opening scenes with Meatloaf’s little tale:

    “This tiger… is evil…”

    Ooooooh, such good cheese. The premise is really out there, but I liked it as a nicely framed survival/cat and mouse shortstory. I think what really made the film for me was Briana Evigan’s honest intensity as Kelly Taylor. The laundry scene was rather well done IMO since I got the sense that even though it was a couple of minutes, it felt like an eternity for her.

    Only real gripe was the ending credits montage. Felt tacked on and disconnected with the “feel” of the movie. But other than that I enjoyed the movie. I’m easily entertained tho ;D

    I’ll have to watch Cujo again too. I was a kid when I watched it and it was a TV edit. But usually when I re-watch shows/movies I really liked back then, I find myself shaking my head in embarrassment. So here’s hoping.

    • “Circus don’t want him!” As cheesy as it is, I’m glad you liked it too. I think it sets itself up for being a significantly worse film than it is. I also felt the laundry scene was very well done.

      Oh boy, I forgot about the ending credits. Ha ha! Yeah, that was bad. :) They rented a tiger and, by god, they were going to show it to us.

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