Cor, I’m tired – probably better go to bed. I’ll just clean my teeth first. There we go, now to get into be- what was that noise just then? Naa, forget it. Time for bed. Sleepy time. YAAAWWNN. Actually, I’m a bit thirsty, might go and get a drink. Right, what shall I have? We’ve got coke, orange juice, some purple stu- that noise again! Forget it, probably just the wind – there is a hurricane coming after all. MMmmm, this is certainly a nice refreshing drink. Back upstairs we go, oh, the mirror. I don’t half look good in these little shorts don’t I? Anyway, enough of that – back to bed. Wait, is that the noise again? Spose I better have a quick look OH MY FUCK THERE’S A HUGE FUCKING TIGER IN THE HALL WHAT THE HELL AM I GOING TO DO I’M DEFINITELY NOT TIRED ANYMORE THIS NIGHT HAS TURNED INTO A FUCKING DISASTER.
That’s the basic plot set-up for “Burning Bright” – there’s something else about Meat Loaf and a safari park and then later some twists and turns etc, but the main thing you need to know is that there is a giant tiger in a house with a girl and her brother. Such a simple set-up, such simple execution, yet an absolutely fantastic movie comes out the other end - “Burning Bright” is basically “The Strangers” with a massive tiger – and it’s just as good. It takes a sensible amount of time to introduce the characters and allows them to become separate personalities (essential for you to not want them to be eaten by the tiger), and then thrusts you head first into the film’s own take on the home invasion sub-genre.
Of course, for the home-invasion to feel plausible, there must be sensible reasons to prevent the occupants from escaping. To reveal the reason in this case would ruin the twist, but needless to say the filmmakers found a way – therefore the claustrophobia level is ramped up to wet-bum levels. This coupled with the fact that there’s absolutely no CGI or animatronics makes for a truly exhilarating film. Had the protagonists been stalked by an iMac, it wouldn’t have been nearly as effective, but seeing A REAL SHAFTING TIGER chase them down really gets the adrenaline pumping.
You’d also think that the amount of thrilling situations involving two people and a tiger in a house would be limited, but no fear, director Carlos Brooks manages to mix things up and consistently keeps the film refreshing, original and most importantly, bloody terrifying. Of course it helps that the house is really big, because having a tiger stalk two people in a one bedroom flat probably wouldn’t work. There are also secret passages (well, laundry chutes) and hidden cupboards to add a bit of variety to the mix. The best moment comes when Briana is hiding in the laundry chute while the tiger is plodding around underneath – this scene ramps up the tension to almost unbearable levels and ends with a money shot that’s sure to go down in horror history.
Talking of Briana – she’s fantastic in this film. She pretty much has to carry the entire movie on her shoulders, and more importantly, keep her performance as serious as possible (this is a film about a giant tiger, after all). She pulls it off effortlessly, and considering her first major film credit was “Step Up 2″ – a gig she essentially got because of how well she could dance – it’s great to see her working in other genres and breaking free from dance-flicks. Although a well placed breakdancing sequence with the tiger wouldn’t have gone amiss.
Alongside Briana is Charlie Tahan as her autistic brother. Yet again we’re gifted with a great performance from such a young actor, and with his upcoming role in “Charlie St. Cloud” it’s clear that he’s going places. From his flawless performance in this film, it’s not hard to see why.
Finally, we have that bloke from the Frosties adverts. He’s wisely decided to make this a non-speaking role, as well as dropping the anthropomorphism schtick – and it’s all the better for it. The facial expressions he pulls out of the bag really add to the tension and he conveys his anger perfectly – he’s surely got a free-pass into the horror villain hall of fame based on this movie alone.
As a thoroughly entertaining exercise in dread, terror and threat, “Burning Bright” is close-to-perfect (it would probably have been better if Briana Evigan was naked), and I can’t recommend it enough. I really wasn’t at all excited to see this film and to be honest, the whole premise seemed a bit silly billy, but once you get over that fact, it’s a non-stop all-angle assault on the senses that’s got to be seen. Especially if you have an irrational fear of tigers stalking you while you’re hiding in a laundry chute.
“Burning Bright” is out on Region 2 DVD on 6th September
Carlos Brooks (director) / Christine Coyle Johnson, Julie Prendiville Roux, David Higgins (screenplay)
CAST: Garret Dillahunt … Johnny Gaveneau
Briana Evigan … Kelly Taylor
Charlie Tahan … Tom Taylor
Peggy Sheffield … Doctor Orsi
Mary Rachel Dudley … Catherine Taylor