Monday, 19 July 2010

Noel's Review: Burning Bright

Scheduled to play a Friday morning slot at this year's FrightFest, Burning Bright is an odd little tale that takes a high concept threat and spins it out into a full-length feature.

So what is the high concept at the centre of the movie? Well, basically it's 'girl trapped in house with Bengal tiger' - a premise that I have to admit I've been more than curious to see unfold. But how do we get to this terrifying and dramatic point in the story? Well, read on…

Kelli (Briana Evigan) is a promising young girl with dreams of going to college. She's already been accepted to a high profile institution, but following the recent suicide of her mother she's unwillingly inherited the responsibility of looking after Tom - her autistic younger brother. Having resigned herself to the fact that she can't take proper care of him, she decides to enroll him in a school of his own - but quickly discovers that the money left for his education has been squandered by her stepfather.

Has he drank the thousands of dollars left in his deceased wife's will away? Spent it all on drugs and cheap hookers? Frittered it away at the tables of local casinos in a fit of grief and depression? No, he's arranged a roadside meeting with Meat Loaf to buy a Bengal tiger as part of a wider plan to turn his home into a Safari Ranch - smart.

Anyway, Kelli comes home and challenges her stepfather, who is busy preparing the family home for an incoming storm. Nailing the last of the windows and doors shut, he heads out to a bar, leaving the teenager and her younger brother home alone. At which point, someone mysteriously lets the caged animal into the house and for the next hour we a deadly game of cat and mouse - except the cat is a tiger and the mouse is a hot teenage girl in her pants. Nice.

It’s a great concept that's dealt with pretty admirably by director Carlos Brooks. With only one other such credit to his name (2008's Sundance featured Quid Pro Quo), Brooks does well delivering high tension and intrigue in such a enclosed space. Although the film is not without its faults, there's definitely enjoyment to be had watching a starved tiger stalking two people trapped in a building with all the windows and doors nailed shut - and those who like to shout instructions at the screen during films will have a great time telling Kelli what she should or should not be doing.

The brutal truth of Burning Bright is that it is a problem that is easily fixed. While Kelli is busy dragging her brother from room to room making one failed attempt to escape after another, you quickly see that her time would be much better spent barricaded in one specific place. But once you get over the fact this would make for a pretty dull horror thriller, you should find there's some good old-fashioned harmless fun to be had here.

Noel Mellor
Grimm Up North Online Marketing Co-ordinator