Director – Carlos Brooks
Cast -Briana Evigan, Charlie Tahan, Garret Dillahunt, Peggy Sheffield
Release Year – 2010
Reviewed by John of the Dead
This is a film that has intrigued me ever since I first heard of this watch a few years ago. I have seen films in the past that involve killer animals, but this one intrigued me because it simply involves a loose tiger inside the home of a young girl and her autistic brother. At first I blew this film off because of the simple plot and the fact that it would be a DTV(direct to video) release, a combination that usually results and a less than favorable outcome. My mind was blown however when the film was given a positive review by Brad over at Bloody-Disgusting.com, which lead me to want to review the film myself. Well, time passed and I eventually forgot about Burning Bright, but I recently came across this newly released flick and gave it the watch it deserved, and despite my earlier negative predictions…the film delivered.
The very attractive Briana Evigan(Sorority Row, S. Darko, Mother’s Day remake) stars as Kelly Taylor, a young woman left with the daunting task of caring for her autistic younger brother Tom after her mother committed suicide. Tom has made Kelly’s life difficult, but things become worse when her former stepfather drains the family’s joint bank account to purchase an adult tiger to be used in his shady plan for a safari theme park, which keeps Kelly from enrolling Tom in a proper school so that she can pursue her own education. With a massive hurricane en route the family’s home is boarded up in preparation for the storm, but the storm is the least of Kelly’s worries when the starved circus tiger escapes his pen and makes his way into the home. With her stepfather out drinking, a storm outside, and an autistic child who constantly draws attention to himself, Kelly must find a way to keep her and her brother safe as she desperately searches to find a way out of their now Hurricane fortified home, or suffer a painful and grisly death.
There is only one way that a simple film like this can come out a really positive watch…execution. The film’s three story contributors, two of which wrote the screenplay, delivered a tightly wound film that wastes little time on things that don’t matter and delivers good conflict and tension throughout the film’s 86 minute runtime. From the get-go we are thrown into the screwed up world that Kelly lives in, with her struggling to deal with her autistic brother who requires constant attention, a moronic stepfather, and the recent suicide of her mother. It seems like a lot to be written into the film, but each of those elements is perfectly written and is never wasted. I applaud the film’s writers for using each of these elements to their full potential and not wasting my time, instead delivering a tight watch that did very much with very little. The rest of the storyline deals with Kelly trying to survive the night as the tiger tears through each room in search of its next meal. Numerous obstacles abound throughout the night, with the obvious being Tom’s autism, which makes him a loud-mouthed nuisance at a time when Kelly and him cannot afford to draw attention to themselves. The idea is simple, but it works perfectly. You may also have noticed that with the home completely boarded up for the hurricane this provides for a nowhere-to-run scenario, forcing Kelly and Tom to hide out in every imaginable spot within the home, which I found fun and engaging given it allowed me to put myself in that very situation and decide what I would do to survive the night…and it would not have been easy.
Director Carlos Brooks does a fantastic job bringing this incredible screenplay to screen, and his execution of every element is top-notch. His camerawork is good, but his ability to sell every scene to the viewer is what made this film so darn enjoyable to me. He gets good performances from everyone involved, but an exceptional performance from Briana Evigan. I have seen her act in previous films, and she did what was required of her, but Burning Bright pushed her to the limits as an actress, and she delivered in awesome fashion. Every emotion she displayed felt real and doped me into caring for her character like none other before, and it was awesome to watch her struggle with the numerous obstacles she faced. The usage of the tiger was great, and nearly all of the scenes involving the tiger were given to us with a real live-action tiger, which upped the ante given how close this giant beast was to the actors involved. Carlos Brooks shows he has guts, and I look forward to his future directing efforts. As far as gore goes we really do not get much aside from one fairly gory kill at the claws of the tiger, but that comes from the fact that the film gives us very few characters aside from Kelly, Tom, and their stepfather Johnny, so naturally the film should never be expected to deliver numerous kills. Nonetheless, despite this tidbit the film never once slows down or drags, the keeps the tension high with glorious execution on all parts.
Overall, this is a simple yet very engaging watch that delivers a great experience thanks to a tight screenplay, good acting, and awesome execution. The tension reigns high in this film from start to finish, and what could have been a boring watch turned into one of the better DTV films of recent years.