In case you read this blog regularly (and I hope you do), you probably remember that after reviewing "Four Dragons", I decided to go on a hiatus as far as Direct to DVD movies from Lionsgate are concerned. The reason for this was quite simple actually-I was sick of having to watch crap like "Dead Clowns", "Experiment in Torture" and "Circle of Pain", and it was becoming increasingly obvious to me that if I kept sitting through such crap, that I would become a very bitter man. So yeah, the hiatus is over.
That out of the way, while the company has been known for releasing Direct to DVD crap for years, they are still able to release something worth watching like "The Burrowers" and "The Children." Now, just when it was all starting to look hopeless, a little gem called "Burning Bright" has come along, and I couldn't be more pleased.
Kelly Taylor (Briana Evigan) has a pretty shitty life. Her mother died from a sleeping pill overdose, she has to be the one that takes care of her autistic brother Tom (Charlie Tahn) and her asshole Stepfather Johnny (Garret Dillahunt) has taken all of her college scholarship money. To make matters worse, a Bengal Tiger Johnny purchases for a safari ranch he wants to start gets loose and finds the house she and her brother are staying in, and there's a bit of a hurricane going on.
A cat and mouse game involving a real live (no mechanical or CG effects here), real big cat, "Burning Bright" is a taught little movie that's full of tension and suspense. The film doesn't have anything going for it in the gore department (it's PG-13), but that's just fine, because it doesn't need any gore. It instead uses a terrifying situation and milks it for all it's worth, and best of all makes you care about Kelly and Tom's plight. That's because the performances from Evigan and Tahn are great, with Evigan making for a great sympathetic every-girl who must fight to protect all she has left, and Tahn managing to add a layer of innocence to his role, doing a much better job than many child actors in horror films do. The film's biggest strength though, is the decision to use a real Bengal Tiger instead of obvious special effects, which makes the creature all the more imposing.
If there are any flaws, it's the whole sub-plot revolving around the storm outside. Once the Tiger comes into play, we still see outside shots of the storm, but it doesn't seem to be viewed as a threat anymore. Granted, there is a man eating cat in the house, but still, this is a hurricane. At least make more out of it.
As a whole, "Burning Bright" is one of the best Direct to DVD flicks of the year, as well as refreshing proof that amidst a sea of crap, Lionsgate can still release an little seen gem on DVD. Check it out.