Tired of watching thrillers re-hashing the same old story? Well here’s a movie with a story so ludicrous that it alone was the reason why I bothered to watch in the first place. Get this: A girl is trapped inside her boarded up home with her severely autistic brother while a hurricane rages outside. But their chances would fare much better out there because inside the home they are being stalked…by a psychotic circus tiger! I shit you not. So now not only does the girl have to find a way out of the house without being eaten, she can’t even touch her little brother or kink up his schedule without him revealing their location when he goes all Frank and Beans while hitting himself in the head. It’s original, it’s absurd, it leaves me wishing i had whatever they where smoking when they came up with the story for BURNING BRIGHT. But please don’t let the absurd sounding plot keep you from checking this film out as surprisingly, it works beautifully. I haven’t enjoyed a movie with a killer tiger in it this much since 1981′s SAVAGE HARVEST. But before I go further, check out the trailer:
BURNING BRIGHT, a title taken from a William Blake poem, begins when Johnny (Garret Dillahunt) purchases a circus tiger from Meatloaf on the side of the road. Probably not that legal of a transaction but the owner of the tiger is itching to sell. He tells Johnny that the Bengal tiger, named Lucifer, is evil and the circus no longer wants it after recently breaking the spine of a show horse and eating it alive in front of a crowd of horrified kiddies. This pleases Johnny immensely as a scary main attraction for his soon-to-be-opened Safari Park is exactly what he needs. He purchases the tiger and takes it to the home he shares with his two step-kids, Kelly and Tom.
When he arrives home, Johnny finishes prepping for an approaching hurricane by sheltering the animals and boarding up all the windows. Meanwhile, Kelly ( the insanely hot Briana Evigan who I get depressed looking at because I know the only way we’ll be together will include some Rohypnol, a bit of rope and a heap of legal trouble) is inside taking care of her autistic brother, Tom (Charlie Tahan), as she has been doing ever since their mom died. Afterwards she retires for the night, ready to ride out the storm that will be in full swing when she wakes in the morning. But the storm is the least of concern because that next morning she finds her stepfather gone, and his striped guest prowling around downstairs. A guest that has not eaten in two weeks. The rest of the film is a genuinely effective cat-and-mouse thriller detailing Kelly trying to escape the home as well as the tiger while also protecting her brother who is barely aware of the danger they are in.
A lot of regular readers here are aware that I have a ridiculous fear of being eaten alive. This is usually reflected in the number of animal attack stories I post. So while this fact does make some movies dealing with that subject a bit more enhanced for me, make no mistake that even if that were not the case, this would still be a kickass movie. Carlos Brooks crafts some very tense scenes involving the back and forth interactions between Kelly and the very hungry cat, in particular a scene with Kelly hiding in the home’s laundry chute. It helps a lot that Evigan does such a great job as Kelly that aside from being an instantly likable character, even without that body, that you’ll root for her the entire time while also excusing her frustrations towards the brother that cannot help but be one gigantic pain in the ass.Tahan does ok with Tom. I’ve been around an autistic kid kinda like the one he is supposed to represent. It doesn’t take much to mimic one so he spends most of his time staring blankly and screaming “NO TOUCH!” while punching himself.
But the big star of the film, aside from Evigan in her pajamas, is the tiger of course. This aspect could have really ruined the entire movie but Brooks plays his cards right and follows the tried-and-true lessons taught in Suspense 101. For some of the scenes, the tiger is only heard, not seen. These audio cues add an extra heaping dose of tension on spots already dripping with it. For the scenes where the tiger is shown, it’s obviously a real one with only a few occasions of CGI rearing its ugly head. Luckily those instances are brief and not horrible enough to pull you out of a good movie and plop you into something you see on SyFy.
I promise you that you’ll have a good time with this one so try and snag a copy of BURNING BRIGHT when it hits DVD this Tuesday, or Netflix or whatever. But whatever you do give it a go, spread the word and let me know what you thought. Thanks to all involved with this film and the entertaining 80 minutes it provided. For that I’m giving this little sleeper three-and-a-half peanut butter sandwiches out of five
Rating:DVD, Horror, Lionsgate, movie, review, When Animals Attack