Tamara (2005)
By: J.R. McNamara on August 1, 2006  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Lionsgate (USA). Region 1, NTSC. 1.78:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 2.0. Spanish Subtitles. 97 minutes
The Movie
Director: Jeremy Haft
Starring: Jenna Dewan, Katie Stuart, Matthew Marsden, Chad Faust, Bryan Clark, Melissa Elias
Screenplay: Jeffrey Reddick
Country: USA
There is one thing you can guarantee about some direct to DVD or independent flicks; they wear their influences on their sleeves. Obviously aimed at the Scream teen horror set, Tamara has elements of some great and some not so great movies: Carrie, The Rage – Carrie 2, The Craft – you know, the 'picked on nerd girl finally gets pushed too far and using powers beyond those of normal folk gets revenge on the teen stereotypes that belittled her' sub-genre, which, when you consider the cornerstone is the idea of sexy chick in school uniform who goes nutzoid, isn't a bad thing!

Tamara tells the tale, surprisingly of Tamara (Jenna Dewan), an unattractive nerdy witchcraft- practicing chick who has a has a crush that is bordering on obsession with her literature teacher Mr Natoly (Matthew Marsden). Natoly sees Tamara as a shrinking violet who just needs a small push to get her to come out of her shell, so he decides to publish a piece she has written about steroid abuse in the High School sports teams, which of course instead of helping her, destroys her. She goes from being the butt of everyone's jokes, to a hated and now targeted victim of fellow student's malice, especially Patrick (Gil Hacohen) and his pal, Shawn (Bryan Clark). These two decide to play a cruel trick on Tamara, which results in her death… but due to a spell she has cast, she returns from the grave as a sexy seductress on a trail of bloody, violent revenge against all who teased, taunted or spurned her.

If you can overlook the fact that most of the school kids are suffering from Beverly Hills 90210 syndrome (you know, supposed to be 18, but looks 28), Tamara is an alright film. There are many opportunities where the film could have really become great, but it just seemed to not quite want to go to those places. There are themes which seem to hover, but are never really explored, which makes the commentary a bit frustrating, as they describe where certain characters were going to be fleshed out, but for whatever reason, weren't, and these ideas would have improved this film . Had the underlying ideas of parental sexual abuse, teen suicide and peer pressure been pulled into the forefront of this story, instead of just glossed over, this would have been an excellent film.
The picture is a clean Widescreen 16x9 (which the covers calls 'DVD Screen Format') transfer, with no apparent faults, but there seems to be, on a very rare occasion, slight grain in the backgrounds.
The sound is only in Dolby 2.0, so don't expect earth shattering sound that will bring down the walls, but it being the type of story that it is, it doesn't need to be, so it doesn't suffer too much from ordinary sound.
Extra Features
The commentary is done by writer Jeffrey Reddick, of whose original story Final Destination was made from, and director Jeremy Haft, who was less impressively responsible for the Tim Thomerson vehicle Red Team. The first thing mentioned in the commentary is the fact the writer was influenced by Carrie when penning this movie, and wanted Carrie to kick everyone's ass, so I guess mission accomplished, because that is exactly what this film is like. A decent commentary that has great input from both parties, and what makes it especially good is the humour and familiarity between the two, and also the descriptions of some of the missing scenes which would have fleshed out some of the smaller characters.

This disc also has trailers for other Lion's Gate releases: Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls and Hostel.
The Verdict
Tamara is a good film that had the potential to bea great film, but some opportunities, in my humble opinion, were missed. This is one of those 'OK' films; The acting is OK, The FX are OK, the story and direction are OK, everything about this film is OK, and that is the problem. It just never quite gets good. It seems more like an episode of R. L. Stein's Goosebumps or an after school special at times.
Movie Score
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