Burning Bright (2010)
Directed by Carlos Brooks
[this review brought to you by guest writer Dylan Duarte, who has a pet lion named Prancing Leo]
Burning Bright is about, at its core, a young woman named Kelly Taylor. Kelly plans to attend college soon, and already has her funding secure, but her mother's untimely death leaves her in charge of her autistic little brother Tom. Her stepfather John offers to look after him, but Kelly trusts him as far as she can throw him. But even after refusing his offer, he still manages to muck things up.
Kelly attempts to enroll her brother in a special school, but when John uses all of the tuition money to buy a tiger for some new safari venture that he's cooked up, Tom's application is denied. However, these things quickly become trivial. A hurricane is coming, so John has all of the windows and the doors of the house boarded up from the outside. The house, which should be safe and secure, then becomes a death trap when the tiger gets loose and Kelly and Tom are trapped inside with it.
The movie kicks off with John (Garrett Dillahunt) purchasing the tiger from a man named Howie (Meat Loaf), though I'm not sure if we ever learn his name in the movie. But his name isn't important, at least not nearly as important as the tiger that he's handing over, a tiger that he can only describe as "evil." John jumps at the chance to acquire such a vicious attraction for his safari. The entire transaction, coupled with the impending hurricane, conveys a certain sense of doom. You know that tiger is going to be the death of somebody and the shady roadside deal is ideal for setting the tone.
Admittedly, it took me a little while to get into the movie, but once it got its claws in me (har har), I was absolutely riveted. I can remember the exact moment it happened.
Kelly was down in the laundry room, looking for a way out of the house. As she attempts to push the board off of a window, the tiger starts to break through the door behind her. Not able to get out the window and only seconds away from being lunch, she desperately clambers up inside the laundry chute, where she has to push against the sides with all her might to keep from falling. She looks down and sees the tiger pass beneath her. I'll stop there, I'm getting chills thinking about it.
From that moment on, I was hooked in a way that only the best nail biters can hook me.
The premise of the movie sounds a little silly: a young girl and her autistic brother are trapped inside a house with a tiger during a hurricane. It sounds like too much at once, but it all comes together perfectly, making for an engaging 90 minutes.
A movie like Burning Bright relies on its ability to generate tension, which it does masterfully, keeping you on the edge of your seat. The ending may be a bit disappointing in its predictability, but it does nothing to spoil the truly frighting experience that is Burning Bright.
"Our guest writer, Dylan Duarte, is a horror buff and writer who writes about Halloween costumes. He can be reached at dylnduarte at gmail.com."