May 6, 2011

Burning Bright (2010)

"A thriller centered on a young woman and her autistic little brother who are trapped in a house with a ravenous tiger during a hurricane."

I saw someone on Twitter mention that they were watching "Burning Bright" so I had to check it out for myself. I'm not sure that you could really describe it as a horror film but it did have some of the elements that we've all come to expect from the genre.

Starring Garret Dillahunt (Krug in "The Last House on the Left") and Briana Evigan (Cassidy in "Sorority Row"), "Burning Bright" at least used two actors with previous horror movie experience rather than someone you've never heard of even though their parts could have been played by absolutely anyone.

Basically, the whole film is an attempted murder using a tiger as the weapon. Johnny Gaveneau (Garret Dillahunt) buys an ex-circus Bengal tiger from Meat Loaf and, after using some illegal immigrants to stormproof his house, he locks the big cat in the now fortified building along with his two stepchildren. Obviously, Kelly (Briana Evigan) and her brother Tom (Charlie Tahan) spend the rest of the story trying to avoid being eaten.

Sounds good, doesn't it? Well, it would have been very good if only more use had been made of the tiger. Apart from one scene which mimicked the most exciting velociraptor attack in "Jurassic Park", you don't really get to see enough of the tiger and there isn't the feeling of menace that it should evoke.

Some of the tiger's antics are unintentionally amusing. From being able to smash its head through the wall in a "Here's Johnny!" moment to jumping through a glass door, you would think that a ferocious beast like that would have no problem savaging the hell out of a sexy, sweaty, piece of meat like Briana Evigan. All she got was a little clawing on one leg which made her perspire even more.

As much as I wanted to see Briana Evigan get eaten, I really wanted to see her annoying, retarded onscreen brother get devoured. If I'd been in her place, that kid would have been sacrificed to the tiger quite quickly. There are even hints (and a dream sequence) that her character would be capable of doing the same thing but it just didn't happen. The kid was such easy prey too.

Other ludicrous moments that annoyed me were that the tiger was not only impervious to sedative drugs but bullets fired at point blank range too. Even though I'm a cat owner, I don't know much about tigers apart from them being bigger than lions but I'm pretty sure that a handgun bullet to the face would stop one.

Anyway, given the predictable nature of films like this, I think you can guess what happens at the end without me spoiling it any more for you. The trailer gives it away if you watch it closely.

I actually enjoyed "Burning Bright" on a purely superficial and slightly sick level mainly because I wanted to see the tiger eat somebody. I felt sorry for the hungry tiger and, basically, just wanted to see it eat anything.

The acting was surprisingly okay especially as Briana Evigan carried the whole thing. Garret Dillahunt was underused but did well and the less said about the little kid, the better. I think it was a mistake to try and get sympathy for an autistic kid in a movie like this especially as he did nothing to make you want to care about him in the first place.

What worries me most about this film is that you just know that someone out there will probably try and do the same thing for real one day. In my darker moments, I've even thought about doing something like this myself but involving some very evil people, rabid feral cats and a tin shed. Now that would make a good film.

I'm torn as to whether or not to recommend "Burning Bright" since, although it had the potential to be very good and was quite an original idea, it didn't have enough tension or jump scares where it counted. If I had to rate it, I'd say it was average (maybe slightly below) but still quite entertaining. It was worth a Netflix rental anyway but isn't something that I'd rewatch.

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