Thursday, July 28, 2011

Film Review: Burning Bright (2010)


Sometimes...all you really need for a good ole' fashioned horror film is a good sense of dread. Usually that dread comes in the form of an escaped serial killer...or an onslaught of virus-stricken zombies...or perhaps even a supernatural force that comes from the beyond. Rarely is that sense of dread captured on film in the form of a wild animal hungry for human flesh. And even rarer is that film any good.

The premise of the 2010 film Burning Bright is simple. A beautiful young woman is trapped inside a boarded up house with her younger brother with no easy way out. What makes the film so special is the little details thrown into that premise. The writers of the film do a wonderful job of choosing from a myriad of different circumstances and elements in which to place our few characters into and director Carlos Brooks does a fine job of wringing every bit of tension from the story given.


Briana Evigan plays the lead role of Kelly Taylor (commence 90210 groaning). Evigan is no stranger to the genre...also turning up in the almost good Sorority Row and the better-than-expected recent remake of Mother's Day. I won't say too much about my critique of Evigan's acting because I may come off a bit biased...being that we are in love with one another. Or at least I'm in love with Briana Evigan. To the casual horror fan, however, she does a fine job of playing the final girl in the film.

The film opens with Kelly's stepfather purchasing a circus tiger from bitch-tits himself...the uncredited Meatloaf. So, if he's uncredited...how do I know he's Meatloaf, you ask? Well...because Meatloaf is pretty fuckin' hard to miss in just about any film short of him dressing up in a Sasquatch costume. Although, I'm pretty sure I'd spot Meatloaf in a Sasquatch costume anywhere. So, the extremely versatile Garret Dillahunt (whom you may recognize as Krug from the Last House on the Left remake...or Jimmy's dim-witted father, Burt Chance, on the funny Fox show, Raising Hope) buys an "evil" circus tiger from Meatloaf and brings it home for a safari-themed park venture he's trying to get off the ground.


Now...here's where the intelligent plot elements come into play. Kelly's younger brother, Tommy, is afflicted by autism. Kelly has pretty much raised her brother with little help from her stepfather, Johnny (Dillahunt) after her biological mother passed away. She desperately wants to go off to college, where she has won a scholarship. However, she is burdened with the dilemna of leaving her autistic brother in the care of her self-absorbed stepfather or finding outside care for him. So, after a failed attempt to place Tommy into an institution for children with special needs due to an unexpected bounced check, she arrives home only to see Johnny bringing home the Bengal tiger he just purchased with the money he took from guess which bank account...as well as a bunch of illegal immigrant workers boarding up the house in preparation for a big hurricane that is arriving shortly.

Got all that? Not so simple anymore, huh? Autism, hurricanes, hot girls and tigers. All the ingredients for a very entertaining tension-filled horror/thriller. I won't spoil the film for you because the film works best not knowing much about the journey.

And while Burning Bright has its ambitious plot-twists here and there...it is, for the most part, conveniently predictable in some spots. The kind of convenient predictability that lends the lead character a wedge tool in which to pound through a weak wall...while the evil tiger is having a hard time getting through a seemingly weak door.


Also...it is kind of silly when you stand back and look at the entire thing for what it is. However, if you can excuse all of that and enjoy the film on a Snakes on a Plane kind of level...then, you'll have a good time with Burning Bright. I couldn't help to wonder, though. Would this film have been more enjoyable if the dread had been zombies instead of a tiger? I mean...don't get me wrong...I do appreciate the "evil" animal vs. "evil" human commentary the writers had going on...as well as the excuse to use an excerpt from the old William Blake poem "The Tyger" for the main title of the film. But, I think it would've been more memorable and much more interesting if you substituted the tiger for a much more traditional horror threat like zombies. Then, instead of using an animal as your symbol of evil...you could use an undead human as that totem and use that to illustrate how human beings compare to one another...living, dead or undead.

Still...that's not to detract from the good of Burning Bright. Just my humble horror insight pitching an idea for another take of this particular premise. In the end...the film is a solid choice for a date night rental. I recommend the film based on the above average acting and the taut display of tension....and for a sweaty Briana Evigan. I could watch an entire film of her painting her toe nails...but, again...we got that love thing going on.



3 out of 5



Thanks for reading,



bryan.

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