Burn (2020) Review

Burn Poster

Burn is the story of Max (Patrick Lazzara, Airplane vs. Volcano, The Bunnyman Massacre). Max is a hitman, and so is Seth (John Fava, Unseen Evil 2, Creepies). Out of professional courtesy, Seth tells Max there’s a contract on Max’s younger brother Vince (Eric Stayberg, Forbidden Power, Bum with a Gun). It seems he got involved with Laurel (Dawn Barber, Paul), the wife of a mob boss named Pinero (Donnie Blankenship, American Warfighter). Now she’s dead and Vince is going to be next.

Seth says he can stall for a couple of days but that’s all the time Max has to get his brother out of town and into hiding. That’s not an easy task under the best of situations, and this is far from the best of situations.

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Burn’s first act is mostly the two brothers in a motel room trying to figure out what to do, their planning intermixed with flashbacks showing Vince and Laurel meeting and how things went from there to where they’re at now. It’s film noir 101 with the tough guy getting involved with a shady woman and ending up in way over his head.

Lazzara quickly throws a twist in things though. Unknown to Vince, Max also has history with Laurel and he doesn’t seem to be entirely over it. Mixed with Vince’s volatile temper the chances of either getting out alive isn’t looking good.

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I admit I had some reservations about Burn. According to the film’s Facebook page, there was a first cut of it as far back as 2014. That was followed by reshoots and a lengthy second round of post-production before this version was finished in 2020. In and of itself that doesn’t mean a film is bad, but it’s rarely a good sign.

In the case of Burn, however, I can’t say that it was a lack of quality that kept it on the shelf, because while it’s not a lost classic, Burn is a solid, low-budget noir on a level with The Tangle and Double Blind. The big difference between it and so many films that got a release much quicker is the lack of a cameo by Danny Trejo, Tony Todd, etc to help sell it. Burn also has a trailer that gives entirely too much information, including the film’s big twist, away. I’m not sure how anyone thought knowing it before seeing the movie was a good idea. But they did. You’ve been warned.

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Once Burn hits that twist the film does a fast 180 degrees spin in tone and temperament. The reason why so much of the film is told in flashbacks also becomes clearer. Granted it probably could have trimmed some of them to beef up the present-day plotline and increase the film’s thriller to drama ratio. Overall though, this is a well-done example of a modern noir with a solid script and some good performances from the mostly unknown cast. As long as you remember that this is a film noir styled thriller and not an action film, you should enjoy it.

123 Go will release Burn to VOD platforms on April 1st. You can check the film’s Facebook page for more information.

Warning, the trailer contains a MAJOR spoiler.

Our Score