Review: Burning Bright

Plot A ferocious Tiger let loose in a house during a hurricane, and a cameo from Meatloaf – need I say more?

Review You had me at 'Tiger' and 'Meatloaf' – that was all the information I needed when I first heard about this movie. I went into it leaving plausibility at the door, expecting a lot of fun and I wasn't disappointed. Making it's UK debut at this year's FrightFest in the smaller Discovery Screen at the end of August, I predict that festival goers will be glad they ducked out of the main screen for this rare gem of a movie.

You can't find anything out about this film on the internet without getting the full synopsis summed up in one sentence, so going into it cold is virtually impossible – its more of a Snakes on a Plane / 'it does what it says on the tin' kind of affair; you know what is going to happen, the fun part comes in how it unfolds and the twists it throws in on the way.

The film stars Brianna Evigan (of Step Up 2 and Sorority Row fame) as Kelly; an overbearing, maternal character. After the death of their mother, Kelly is left to look after her younger, Autistic brother, holding her back from following her dreams of going to college and leading a normal life.

The trouble starts when the pair's step dad, Johnny (Garret Dillahunt – Krug in the 2009 remake of The Last House on the Left), comes up with a madcap plan to set up his own Safari park with the main attraction being the most ferocious Tiger he can get his hands on (cue Meatloaf cameo). When the trailer (with Tiger onboard) makes it back to the house, a hurricane ensues and everyone is told to batten down the hatches, but not before Johnny escapes to the local bar.

Kelly and her brother then take over the remainder of the screen time, along with the main feline protagonist who apparently goes after 'pretty girls' (watch out Brianna!) - you won't look at Tony the Tiger the same way again. Once the cat is out of the bag (or cage) Kelly has the odds stacked against her, trying to communicate to her Autistic brother and get them both out of danger, without attracting the Tiger, whilst being trapped in a house (the windows are doors are boarded up) with a hurricane outside – talk about down on your luck.

To my surprise there was no demonising of the tiger, or overuse of CGI – instead it showed the real threat posed by powerful, wild animals, using subtle CG effects and real live action shots of the Tiger (no cheesy animatronics here). The acting is solid and the pacing is spot on for this type of thriller.

There are some genius uses of household items and fixtures throughout the film, in particular the freezer, and even the most steadily nerved will be holding their breath at some point during the film. There isn't much in the way of gore, except for a moment in the last reel, but then this movie is all about the chase, and that's what I love about it. There is a classic scene where our heroine Kelly has managed to climb up the laundry chute and is clinging on for dear life; her feet slipping and her fingers clawing on for grip, sweat pouring from her body, when suddenly the tiger appears right underneath at the bottom of the chute, with 'dinner-time' on his mind.

All in all this is a solid movie that will be enjoyed by all – Burning Bright could be the real sleeper hit of the year, purely on the basis that there is nothing quite like it out there at the moment. Board up the windows, barricade the door and prepare yourself for one hell of a fun, scary ride!

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