Burning Bright – DVD Review

The college plans of 20 year old Kelly are disrupted when the funds put aside to care for her younger, autistic brother are used by her stepfather to buy the main attraction to his rural safari park, a ravenous tiger.

Waking late at night in the middle of a hurricane, Kelly soon realises she is trapped in the house with the tiger on the loose and her brother to protect. Will they survive? Will they escape? Will you care?

Ok, let’s get it out of the way. The plot does sound a little bit hokey but you do find yourself buying into the conceits to get to the fun part of this movie without too much trouble.

He’s opening a mini safari park/guest house? Yeah, ok. The house is big enough, why not?

There’s a hurricane coming so the house is being totally boarded up from the outside? Sure, I can see that.

The tiger gets loose with two people still inside the house? Well yeah, actually. Seeing the trailer in advance this was the part I had the most trouble with, but in the context of the film it does actually work. And like I said, it’s all set up to get to the reason anyone would want to see this movie. People locked in house with tiger.

And once we do get to this part the film rattles along, almost in real time for the most part and there really isn’t a break in the tension.  The suspense is kept up and the tiger is made into a real and credible threat, which is no small feat when it is so GORGEOUS (sorry, I like tigers). For what I imagine is a fairly low budget movie the tiger really is used to maximum effect and never feels like an effect or, as you sometimes get when real animals are used, a big softie being made to look threatening. There are scenes where the tiger looks right down the barrel of the camera and you suddenly feel a little too much like someone tagged a Happy Meal label on you.

The main lead, Briana Evigan, is pretty much tasked with holding this movie together and does the job well. She is believable and sells the terror of the situation without resorting to horror bimbo tricks. Yeah, she does most of the movie in a tight vest top and boxer shorts, which I’m sure will feature heavily on the back of the dvd case, but her character was surprisingly strong, capable and clever. Hell, I probably would have screamed more than she did in this film.

The other main character is her younger brother. And this would be my one main gripe with the movie, probably mainly due to the fact I am pretty damn heartless. I just wanted him to die ALL the way through the film. Not because of the actor. He did what was asked of him. It’s just… have you ever played a computer or console game and got to the “Get from point A to B and keep this computer controlled character alive” levels? You know how after five minutes in you are shouting “STOP RUNNING INTO THE LINE OF FIRE YOU IDIOT” and after ten you are thinking “I don’t care if I do fail the level, I’m gonna shoot you myself”. This was the feeling I got whenever he was on the screen. I understand how they wanted to play him distant and awkward so that you would constantly wonder if the sister would leave him behind, but I would have liked at least one moment where I could see why she had so much affection towards him. I know it was her brother, but I have a brother myself and if he was that much hard work in a situation like that I’d be throwing barbecue sauce at him and ringing the dinner bell.

All in all an enjoyable, tense little thriller, pretty much a Cujo for the next generation. If you like movies where you catch yourself holding your breath when characters on the screen do, you’ll like this. If you like shouting “EAT THE KID!!” at the screen you’ll like it even more.

Stars out of 5 – 3. Actually 3½…. an extra ½ for Meatloaf’s laid back cameo.

Dry Slaps – 1 because while I bought all the other little tricks they pulled, the disposal of the mobile phone felt unnatural… which I suppose is a good sign of how credible the other parts of the setup were.

And I got to the end of this review without calling it “A real game of cat and mouse” ….. result!

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