x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Burning Bright: killed by haphazard execution

Despite the well-conceived story, this thriller fails to deliver enough actual thrills to sink one's teeth into.

Garret Dillahunt as Johnny Gavineau in Burning Bright.
Garret Dillahunt as Johnny Gavineau in Burning Bright.

Director: Carlos Brooks
Starring: Briana Evigan, Garret Dillahunt, Charlie Tahan
***

From last year’s pointless Straw Dogs remake, to 2008’s unconvincing horror The Strangers, home invasion movies have been looking tired for some time, but low-budget thriller Burning Bright offers a set-up that sounds just barmy enough to justify revisiting the genre.

It sees a young woman (Evigan) and her profoundly autistic kid brother (Tahan) trapped inside a house with a ravenous Bengal tiger, while a hurricane rages outside. It may sound preposterous, but it doesn’t feel that way. The main characters’ uncaring stepfather has plans to open a safari park and buys a reputedly “evil” animal, which he intends to control with a regime of near-starvation.

But the movie goes downhill as soon as the beast is unleashed. It is hard to tell whether the lead actors were ever actually on set with the tiger, but my bet is that they missed each other by days. The effect is that the action never feels real and the suspense is sorely lacking.

Technical issues aside, Evigan does her best with a convincing and remarkably human performance as a woman torn between her loyalty to a dependent brother and her dreams of a more fulfilling life without him.

The ferocious feline that threatens to destroy them works as an effective metaphor for the rage that the boy’s condition brings out in both siblings. But despite the well-conceived story, haphazard execution means this thriller fails to deliver enough actual thrills to sink one’s teeth into.

artslife@thenational.ae

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