The first thing you'll probably think when you hear the rundown on Burning Bright is, "Oh, no. Not another one in the Maneater series!" Or if your knowledge of the genre is more broad, then you'll peg it as a SyFy original and move on. But don't. Burning Bright is a bona fide standalone thriller with not only a few dollars behind it, but it's got top actors, is well-written, beautifully photographed, smartly edited, and deftly directed.
Don't call animal control with their tranc guns on me just yet, though — Burning Bright isn't a keeper for the library. It's just good, solid entertainment. The thing that sets it apart is having a story that's outrageous enough for horror fans and yet believable enough for cinephiles. Secondly, it uses only real, live tigers (not an animatronic stripe among them). Anyone who knows anything about the art of editing will see how the chills are devised, but that does not make the white-knuckle suspense any less chilling.
Within the first two minutes of Burning Bright, I was hooked. There's an opening sequence and a monologue of dialogue (brilliantly delivered by Meat Loaf) that sets the tone and then everything takes off at a dead gallop from there. To rehash the meager plot would do the soon-to-be-viewer a disservice, so I'll let sleeping tigers lay when it comes to that.
What I can say is that the acting is excellent. Garrett Dillahunt (who's amazing right now on the television series Burn Notice as slippery Simon) is top-billed, but not in it much overall. It's really the show of Briana Evigan and Charlie Tahan as the sister and brother trapped inside a house with a bloodthirsty and completely psychotic big cat — she's a wannabe college student who's had to defer her scholarship a couple of times to take care of her Autistic brother after the death of their mom. It's set up in a subtle way that she's smart and the tiger is cunning, so it's that much better to watch as the game of cat and mouse unfolds.
The behind-the-scenes featurette on the disc reveals a "tiger on the loose!" mishap on set, interviews with the animal trainer, plus sound-bites from the director on his careful construction of this effective thriller (and he reveals info about the one-and-only CGI moment in the film). Pretty interesting stuff.
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