Short Reviews: Burning Bright (2009)


For a film that’s title is based solely on the opening line of William Blake’s The Tygre and nothing else, I have to give it credit for mounting up a reasonably entertaining little thriller.

Briana Evigan, who you of course know from her multi-award winning performances in Step Up 2: The Streets and Sorority Row, plays Kelly, a devoted sister to her autistic brother Tom. We meet them as she’s arranging his admittance into a school/hospital for special needs children while she’s off at college. The spanner in these works appears when Kelly’s cheque bounces, meaning no school for either of them. It turns out her dick of a stepdad John (Garret Dillahunt) spent the money on the purchase of a tiger for the small zoo he plans to open.

She goes home to confront him, while a group of workers John has hired are boarding up their house due to an impending hurricane. John and Kelly fight, saying that her recently-dead mother’s inheritance should have gone to her and Tom, but it’s clear that John has just taken it because there was no official will, because, as mentioned before, John is a dick. That night, during the hurricane, “someone” (*cough* John *cough*) releases the tiger into the sealed-up house, and so begins a night of Kelly desperately trying to stay alive and protect Tom despite the rising odds.

On paper, this is a movie that should’ve been destined for late-night TV movie hell, but it’s a surprisingly decent little flick that seems to succeed at its premise because it never stops to acknowledge how ridiculous it all is. On top of that, Briana Evigan gives a decent performance despite her appearances in the aforementioned turkeys, and the tiger poses an impressive threat, with some genuinely perilous scenes to boot.

The story is predictable as anything though – John is the most obviously villainous of all villainous stepfathers in the world, and the attempts to show Kelly’s frustration of needing to care for Tom holding her back from living the independent life she wants don’t so much convey being caught between ambition and obligation as much as they make her seem like a bitch, but I still enjoyed this movie a lot more than I thought I would.

There’s nothing specific I can put my finger on that makes this movie work, except to assume that my expectations were so low going in that it surprised me by being very passable at its job of providing entertainment.

Should you watch it? No, not necessarily, but if you find yourself at a movie night where someone insists on putting it on, don’t despair; it’s easily the best trapped-in-a-house-with-a-tiger-during-a-hurricane-that-poses-a-threat-to-my-autistic-brother movie out there. Popcorn entertainment at it’s most adequate. And if nothing else, the poster’s pretty cool!


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