Burning Bright (DVD)
Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring Briana Evigan, Garret Dillahunt, Charlie Tahan, Meat Loaf, three badass tigers
Directed by Carlos Brooks
Distributed by Lionsgate Home Entertainment
I'll never forget the first time I read the synopsis. A young girl trapped in a house with her autistic brother during a hurricane while being menaced by a man-eating tiger. Really? How could this possibly friggin' work? Immediately I wrote this off as a job for Foy. Yet, like the proverbial cat I was curious. After much trepidation and a good deal of mocking, I decided to take the ride. Holy shit.
Johnny Gavineau (Dillahunt) is a man with a dream. After the untimely passing of his wife, he decides to convert their former home into a safari park complete with wild animals. However, in order to do so properly, he realized that he needs a tiger. So who does he call? Meat Loaf. Yes, that Meat Loaf. I mean, come on, guys, only Meat Loaf could bring the tiger! He's just that much of a badass! I guess this was the one thing that he wouldn't do for love. Finally, the mystery is solved! Meat Loaf (doing his best Dr. Loomis) informs Johnny upon purchase that this is not just any tiger. No. This one is pure evil (and hasn't eaten in two weeks). I shit you not.
With his evil tiger in tow, Gavineau heads back to the newly on the way to being converted home that he shares with his step-daughter (Evigan) and her mentally challenged brother (Tahan). With mom gone, raising these two kids is no doubt going to prove to be quite the burden. One he's just not ready for. So after boarding up the house because a massive hurricane is headed their way, he decides to set the starving beast loose as a means to kill the kids so that he can collect on their insurance policies. Again ... I shit you not.
From there Burning Bright turns into a literal game of cat and mouse that shares quite a few similarities to the entire Halloween franchise, if you can believe that. Our shapely tiger crashes through the louver doors of a closet the kids are hiding in, chases them through laundry chutes, and even busts through walls to get them. The sick part? I have no idea how, but everything, despite how silly it may sound, works! With subject matter this -- strange -- director Carlos Brooks really only had two choices. He could either end up making one hell of a bad movie or swing for the friggin' fences.
Needless to say he swung and managed to surprisingly enough knock it out of the park. Seriously. I'm stymied. Things aren't all good, though, as the flick does suffer from the usual pitfalls of a movie in this vein. There's a little bit too much melodrama in the interactions between autistic brother and overly solicitous sister. Characters tend to make questionable choices and at times don't really react the way that any rational person would. For instance - if you managed to escape a hellish day of being chased by a man-eating animal, would you run like hell or would you take a moment to sit and take a breather? Me? I'd be running like Carl Lewis into the next state and beyond. But what can you do, right? If people didn't make silly decisions, we wouldn't have any movies to watch. These bumps in the road never really serve to disrupt the otherwise smooth ride too much, and as a result Burning Bright proves to be one hell of an intense experience.
Now on to the bad ... the DVD itself. Other than Briana Evigan reciting the poem The Tiger by William Blake as an intro and a short yet effective behind-the-scenes jaunt, we get nothing. Not even a commentary. Talk about a missed opportunity. One of the things the viewer learns and will no doubt appreciate during the making-of featurette is that there's not a single CGI shot of a tiger in this flick. It was all pulled off by utilizing a mixture of practical and composite shots. That being said, how in the world could there not be more to talk about? It's confounding!
What we have here, folks, is one of the sleeper flicks of the year. Burning Bright might well sound like the dumbest thing you've ever heard of, but make no mistake ... it's a snarling beast of a movie that will - to my absolute astonishment - leave you white-knuckled and thoroughly entertained. For the last time ... I shit you not!
4 out of 5
2 out of 5
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