Judge Brett Cullum thinks tigers are not just good, they're grrrrrEAT!
Tiger, Tiger…burning bright.
This thriller has a basic premise that always seems to work: a girl in trouble running from an unstoppable killing machine. You take a tough but pretty young lady, add her autistic innocent brother, and you throw them into a situation where they have to fight for their lives against a force of nature. In this case they are locked inside a house with a hungry tiger while a hurricane ravages the outside world. The doors and windows have been boarded up, and they are trapped with only each other and their wits to get out alive. The scenario is a sure fire bet, and Burning Bright turns out to be a not bad little fright fest even if about eighty percent of it is unbelievable or predictable. The real thrill is seeing a huge hungry cat, and for most of the film they use a true tiger avoiding the CGI cop-out. The only times when reality is betrayed are when the compositing of inserting the tiger into a shot is all too detectable. But for the most part some credible performances combine with quick edits to make everything work well enough.
Briana Evigan (Step Up 2: The Streets) plays Kelly, the girl who is trapped in the house by her evil stepfather (Garret Dillahunt,The Last House on the Left). Along for the thrill ride is her autistic brother portrayed by Charlie Tahan (I Am Legend). Rock singer Meat Loaf (Fight Club) also makes a cameo as a circus owner eager to get rid of the deadly big cat. The actors do just fine with what they are given, and the tigers all look pretty spectacular when you get a good look at them. A trio of the striped kitties had to be used to make the film work.
On DVD Burning Bright looks just fine. The color palette is muted thanks to the dark and stormy house, and that is purposeful to mask some of the special effects. The widescreen transfer has grain, but is devoid of anything that ruins the suspense. Composite shots are not masked all that well, but there are no halos around inserted tigers or people. The five channel surround sound does wonders with the guttural growls and spooky cat noises. The only extras include Briana Evigan reading the poem that the title is taken from as well as a quick ten minute look at the making of the project. It turns out to be just enough supplement to explain how the movie got made and what the intentions were.
It's not overly bloody or scary, so Burning Bright should make a pretty good film night for teens and the rest of the family. The tiger scenario is a little ridiculous, but for the most part they play it out without too many times when you have to suspend disbelief. I'm grateful to see a suspense story with at least a unique idea and a solid B-level cast that makes it all work. This could have been a drive-in hit back in the day, but now it seems these type of movies just make good spontaneous DVD rentals. In that light, Burning Bright does just what it should. How can you not win? It's a pretty girl taking on a jungle predator.
Guilty pleasure of a B-movie. We find out tigers and pretty girls mix
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