Director: Carlos Brooks.
Writers: Christine Coyle Johnson (screenplay), Julie Prendiville Roux (screenplay).
Starring: Briana Evigan, Charlie Tahan and Garret Dillahunt.
Duration: 86 minutes.
Year: 2009.
Certification: 15.

Tiger, tiger burning bright…

 In the forests of the night.

What immortal hand or eye…

Could frame your fearful symmetry?

The above is the first stanza to the poem by William Blake (The Tyger 1794) and presumably where the film Burning Bright (2010) lends its name, but for a moment forget about forests and forget about Blake because the film Burning Bright isn’t about a damn Romantic poet gushing and getting damn wet and excited about the joy of being alive and neither is about a flowery wordsmith who goes insane and kills his victims whilst babbling on about England’s green and pleasant land.

The film Burning Bright is definitely a thriller though.

A thriller about a boarded up house in a small American town.

A thriller with a hurricane on its way.

A thriller about two trapped kids and a damn tiger burning bright in the front room.

The essential plot is that a twisted step-father locks and boards up his unwanted step kids in aforementioned house during a hurricane… oh along with the orange and black tiger that hasn’t eaten for weeks. That is the film in a nutshell or more to the point a boarded up house with a tiger in it. The two kids (one hardworking honest and one autistic and vulnerable) are locked in the house with the killer tiger whilst the evil unscrupulous step-father is drinking at a local all day bar.

I mean it all may sound a bit farfetched, but the initial premise of the tiger being there in the first place is explained well enough and is therefore possible if not entirely plausible. Also it’s thankfully a short enough and well paced film with some genuinely tension filled thrilling moments and there’s the odd nice shot of the tiger growling as the girl frantically escapes up a laundry chute or where later she and her brother are hiding in a wardrobe.

Of course the wardrobe scene has obvious echoes of John Carpenter’s Halloween because that’s what Burning Bright is… a slasher stalk type deal replacing a psycho in a mask (knifing wardrobes) with a tiger burning bright on the chaise- lounge and dining table and chasing a scantily dressed (Briana Evigan) about a house.

Anyway, back to Blake because like the poet’s poem this film isn’t really about a tiger at all, but this film is more a metaphor for evil and the greed and stupidity of an American man or more to the point Americans in general and maybe even the world at large. It’s a film about a country and world that is increasingly selling its soul at the altar of materialism and greed for money and self-absorbed narratives and a world where the supposed strong, but ultimately stupid look to manipulate and overcome and kill the honest and virtuous or vulnerable and weak by locking them in houses with damn tigers or maybe even cutting benefits and jobs and undermining damn worker’s rights and the damn economy. Grrrr.

Ultimately lacks bite, but there’s a certain novelty to this film… worth a watch.


Review by Tom Siggins

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Buy Burning Bright on DVD at Amazon.

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