Welcome To The Deuce

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Burning Bright (2010)

Kelly (Sorority Row's Briana Evigan) and her autistic younger brother, Tom (Charlie Tahan), are startled to discover that they've been trapped in their step-father Johnny's (Garret Dillahunt) house-come-safari park with a starving Bengal tiger; recently purchased from a circus (an enjoyable cameo from Meatloaf) that could no longer control it. With a hurricane raging outside, Kelly must stay one-step ahead of the hunter in order to save herself and her brother.

Burning Bright is a very welcome experience. Shelved for nearly 2 years while the market gets bombarded by re-makes of superior movies, this little gem sat gathering dust – great! Taking two classic sub-genres, the nature runs amok and the home invasion movies and bundling them into a brisk eighty minute exercise in tension that is a pleasure from start to finish. It may not be a classic but it will certainly prove a welcome change from the norm.

The film spends the first half hour introducing us to the three characters and the awkward dynamic they have. Kelly wants to put Tom into specialist care so she can go to college, but alcoholic Johnny has used the money saved to purchase the tiger for his Safari park, and to take care of some other unresolved business involving the dead mothers will. Due to the incoming hurricane the house has been completely boarded down, so Johnny unleashes the tiger in the house and hits his local bar. From there on the movie is non-stop tension as the siblings try to escape.

There are several well orchestrated set-pieces, the best being Kelly's first encounter with the tiger in the basement; Kelly hides in the laundry shoot as the tiger prowls below, Kelly's sweat drops down and the tiger picks up her sent and it isn't long before it knows where the next meal can be found. Due to the claustrophobic environment, the constant threat of violence can be felt throughout the final forty minutes and really elevates the film and makes you wonder why it's taken so long to be released? It also helps that they chose to use a real tiger and kept the CGI to a minimum, this added realism really adds to the impact and gives an authentic sense of menace watching the it stalk around the house.

Briana Evigan really impresses, she's pretty much in every shot of the movie so a lot was depending on her performance and she provides a fantastic turn here. The scenes with her and the tiger were filmed separately and cleverly edited together, so it's a credit to the young actress that she gives such a convincing portrayal of fear when there wasn't anything on set to be afraid of... Well, except Garret Dillahunt, who can play creepy and off-putting in his sleep and provides another solid performance here. When is he going to get more substantial roles? He's one of America's finest character actors and deserves more than the type casting he's currently facing!

Don't expect an out-and-out bloodbath, this is a restrained effort that focuses more on atmosphere than kills. The tension is well executed and will have viewers palms sweating on more than one occasion. If you're attending this years Film4 Frightfest in London then you should do yourself a favour and experience this on the big screen, the film premiere's on Friday 27th August at 10:45am and has a follow up showing on the 28th at 9pm. Those who can't make it can find the DVD in stores from 6th September. If you're tired of re-makes and want an enjoyable slice of original horror then you can do worse than Burning Bright, it's an enjoyable thrill-ride that will entertain those looking for atmosphere over claret.

You can pre-order the DVD here.