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Burning Bright

January 12th, 2012 by unkle lancifer · 12 Comments

I was all set to purchase a Bengal tiger and now BURNING BRIGHT has turned me off of the idea completely. BRIANA EVIGAN (GREG EVIGAN’s daughter who you might remember from SORORITY ROW) portrays Kelly Taylor, a gal set to go off to college. Trouble is, her mother’s recent suicide and her stepfather’s general flakiness have left her feeling personally responsible for the well being of her autistic younger brother. Her sense of being trapped becomes all too literal when she wakes up in her home to find it boarded up in anticipation of a hurricane. I should also mention that somebody has also barricaded the front and back doors, and only after setting her stepfather’s recently acquired bloodthirsty tiger within the house. Not only does Kelly have to survive but she also must keep her sibling who doesn’t register the danger alive too. It’s safe to say that this is an unlikely situation but the matter of fact way it’s handled is convincing and the resulting intensity is impossible to deny. At one point I’m pretty sure I yelped.

I gotta say that although they don’t get as much attention as some other sub genres of horror, the good ol’ “man vs. fill in the blank beast” movie has been discreetly advancing in quality and effectiveness over recent years (BLACK WATER & THE REEF come to mind). BURNING BRIGHT is the latest example of such a film to wisely focus on and utilize the actual animal in question, producing an authentic primal response in the viewer. (It looks like some CGI is used in BB but only around the edges to position a genuine tiger in specific places). The tiger (or really tigers, as more than one is credited) in question is a magnificent natural effect and don’t be surprised if something way down in the pit of your DNA well flashes red when it’s on screen. The action is all the more impressive that the lion’s share (har) takes place in a limited space. Director CARLOS BROOKS even had me thinking back to HALLOWEEN with the way he transforms a recognizable everyday home into a cavernous battlefield and the last segment of TRILOGY OF TERROR with his dedication to relentlessness.

As tight as the director’s craftsmanship is, a movie this intimate and concentrated could easily collapse if occupied by a feeble cast. I was impressed by every one present. GARRET DILLAHUNT (LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT) is always interesting, EVIGAN could be the king of the scream queens if she had a mind to and CHARLIE TAHAN as Kelly’s autistic brother gives a temperate, modest spin on a role that many an actor (of any age) would have demolished with hammy ostentation. His approach fits right in with the film’s general manner of getting the job done succinctly and without tiresome ornamental bombast. Truth told, I did end up yearning for a little more fleshing out of Kelly’s relationship with her shady stepfather but the movie is so lean, compact and uncluttered maybe it’s best that boat wasn’t rocked. It’s probably better to be left hungry for a little more than overstuffed and I don’t mind filling in some of the blank spots myself. The bottom line is that this movie really worked for me as a precision suspense dispenser and I don’t need anything more than that.

Tags: General Horror · Trauma Au Courant

12 responses so far ↓

  • 1 bdwilcoxNo Gravatar // Jan 12, 2012 at 12:17 pm


  • 2 dasklyterNo Gravatar // Jan 12, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    When this came out on dvd, my teen son and I rented it not expecting much. I think we rented it based on the cool cover and the fact my son is a “Tiger” (he’s a football player).
    Was surprised at how well made, suspenseful and frightening the tiger shots were for the budget. No CGI??!! Thank goodness for that!
    We kept thinking ” I hope that girl and the tiger were not traumatized after making this movie”! And “Wow, tigers are really beautiful and SCARY”!

    You had to suspend a little disbelief, but the tiger was so menacing and the pacing so well done that you forgot you were watching a killer animal movie. I would watch this again.
    I dug Meatloaf in the beginning, his character was a bit sinister and foreboding. I always enjoy a random Meatloaf moment.

  • 3 goblinNo Gravatar // Jan 12, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    I hate being a cynical sourpuss (honestly, I do) and I’m sure the movie is better than its ridiculous premise, but I just can’t get over how dumb it all sounds. Hurricanes, tigers, autistic siblings – all that’s missing to crank the ludicrousness up to 11 is a ticking nuclear bomb. How do you even acquire a tiger? It’s not like they sell them at pet shops.

  • 4 lottie_of_millhavenNo Gravatar // Jan 12, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    Like a lot of the people posting here, I had serious doubts about this movie. However, I was very impressed with what they did with the “iffy” premise.

    As Uncle Lance said, its the acting and direction that makes this one special.

  • 5 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Jan 12, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    I totally agree that the premise is bonkers!

    But it ended up making me more impressed that the director essentially pulled off something next to impossible.

    Plus I like the idea that I’ll never have to worry about someone trying to rip this movie off! Who would dare?

    As ludicrous as the set-up is, once things get going it’s al about the bare basics of just surviving and I think it really works.


    I do like the idea of adding a nuclear bomb!

    Or it would have been great if they escaped the house, ran into the woods and were promptly mauled by a grizzly bear.

  • 6 bdwilcoxNo Gravatar // Jan 12, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    That’s too normal. How about a grizzly bear with a severe limp and cold sores?

  • 7 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Jan 12, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    Sounds like a perfect comeback vehicle for the Prophecy bear!

  • 8 knobgobblerNo Gravatar // Jan 13, 2012 at 4:19 am

    I LOVE the Prophecy bear! Someone needs to make a honey dispenser based on him! I know I’d buy a few.

    Also, that shot of the tiger’s eye has set me on edge and I haven’t even seen the movie yet.

  • 9 EshbaalNo Gravatar // Jan 13, 2012 at 4:59 am

    Come on, now, we all know that a meeting with the Prophecy Bear wouldn’t be worth it unless they’re jumping around in sleeping bags. :p

  • 10 christineNo Gravatar // Jan 14, 2012 at 2:10 am

    I’m so glad you liked this one too, Unk! I just had this film on my list of movies I watched in 2011 that I enjoyed. Admittedly, it sounds so utterly ridiculous going in, but I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of tension it provided. Happy others are getting a chance to see it, it deserves the attention, as well as kudos for originality!

  • 11 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Jan 14, 2012 at 10:48 am


    Yep, this is my type of movie! Just give me a big house, a danger of some sort and a clever main character and then direct it in such a way that it keeps me on my toes and I’m happy as a clam!

    (I wasn’t kidding when I said BB made me yelp!)

    Btw folks, Christine’s Year end round up over at Fascination With Fear is a must read…

  • 12 Buck TheoremNo Gravatar // Jan 17, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    This reminded me very much of those daft Robert Bloch, Eerie comics set-up, but once the gorgeous big cat is looking for a meal in a sealed-up house, this was great. I liked how it underplayed character melodrama (no soppy sibling gushing) and really, really didn’t skimp on the tiger just finding them wherever they hid and really putting the house through its paces.

    And I happily admit that the laundry and laundry-chute set piece was the first to really put the jitters up me for a long, long time. Absolutely the stuff of nightmares. But then the big cat on the bed and chewing away at the closet weren’t that bad either.

    Really enjoyable and tightly made stuff. Thanks for recommending it!

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