Directed by Jeremy Haft
Produced by Danny Fischer, Chris Sievernich, Matt Milich, Martin Wiley
Written by Jeffrey Reddick
Director of Photograpy Scott Kevan
Music by Michael Suby
Cast: Jenna Dewan, Matthew Marsden, Katie Stuart, Chad Faust

2005/98 mins/Color/Dolby Surround 2.0
1.78:1 anamorphic/English/USA/NTSC Region 1

Review from the Lionsgate DVD

Everyone has different feelings when they look back at their experiences in high school. As someone who watches a lot of movies, I can only assume that I went to the most boring and safest high school in America. In the movies, teenagers do some of the vilest, meanest, and wackiest stuff that I've never seen -- shenanigans that I never saw in my school. TAMARA is the latest example of this kind of phenomena, as it's a movie which mixes high school hijinx with horror.

Tamara (Jenna Dewan) is a mousy teenaged girl who lives with her alcoholic father. She wears glasses and doesn't have trendy clothes. Her interest in witchcraft makes her even more of an outcast. The only bright spot in Tamara's life is her English teacher, Mr. Natolly (Matthew Marsden), on whom she has an enormous crush. The local mean kids, Patrick (Gil Hacohen), Kisha (Melissa Elias), and Shawn (Bryan Clark), learn of Tamara's feelings and decide to play a prank on her. They enlist new kids, Chloe (Katie Stuart) and Jesse (Chad Faust), to join in on the joke by describing it as a party, and they convince A/V geek Roger (Mark DeVigne) that they need to have the party videotaped. Tamara is lured to a motel believing that she's meeting Mr. Natolly there. Once the ruse is uncovered, Tamara freaks out and is accidentally killed, the group of scared kids bury the body and make a pact to never speak of it again.

So, imagine their surprise when Tamara arrives at school the next day. However, this Tamara is completely different, as she's a confident vixen who dresses in scandalously sexy clothes. Despite the fact that those involved with the prank want nothing to do with Tamara, she pursues them and it becomes painfully aware that Tamara has returned from the grave seeking her revenge.

Anyone who knows anything about filmmaking is aware of the fact that it's a collaborative process, and it's rare that any one person can take credit for a movie. TAMARA was written by Jeffrey Reddick who also co-wrote the screenplay for FINAL DESTINATION, a movie which I happen to love. Officially, Reddick is credited with the story of FINAL DESTINATION, while the screenplay was written by Reddick, Glen Morgan, and James Wong. Having now seen TAMARA, I can't help but wonder if Morgan and Wong brought much more to the film than Reddick. On the audio commentary to TAMARA, Reddick admits that the film is an attempt to one-up CARRIE. But it goes much further than that. The movie is reminiscent of other films as well, including THE WRAITH, THE CRAFT, and any movie where a prank goes wrong, such as JAWBREAKER, MEAN CREEK, HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW, or even the spoof NATIONAL LAMPOON'S CLASS REUNION. The point is, whereas FINAL DESTINATION was a clever, original movie, TAMARA feels very borrowed.

So what? you ask, no movie is very original anymore. OK, but beyond that, TAMARA is silly and boring. The point is well made that when Tamara comes back from the grave that she has a newfound confidence, but we never learn A) where Tamara got the clothes, or B) why she's dressed so slutty. How did that come across in the pitch meeting? "OK, she comes back from the dead, and she's a tramp!" What? The movie is also a bit vague on Tamara's powers and her motivations. She has the power of mind-control, which seems to make her comely appearance redundant. She seems determined to kill some of her tormentors, which humiliating others seems to suffice. (That's not to say that many will die.) The ending is cheesy and the coda is unnecessary.

While TAMARA isn't very impressive, it's not a total loss. It's certainly one of the gorier movies that I've seen lately and the first revenge murder is more graphic than anything that was in HOSTEL. This scene made me reach for the box to confirm that I was watching the R-rated cut. I won't give anything away, but there's also a scene which gives "three-way" a new meaning for mainstream films. I've certainly seen worse films than TAMARA, but I couldn't shake the feeling that I'd seen it all before...just not in my high school.

TAMARA is reanimated on DVD courtesy of Lionsgate. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. Of course, being a Lionsgate DVD, the question is, was 1.78:1 the original aspect ratio for the film? I have no idea. I can say that the framing looks accurate, as the image never looks squeezed and there's no overt cropping or pan-n-scan. The image is sharp and relatively clear, although there is a minor amount of grain on the image. The colors are good, but the image looks somewhat flat at times and isn't very dynamic. On the plus side, haloes around the actors was at a minimum. The DVD carries a 2.0 Dolby Surround audio track which provides clear dialogue. The dynamic range is well-balanced and the music sounds fine. I noticed some nice stereo effects, but the surround effects only came through during musical cues and the occasional "jump" scare.

The only extra feature on the DVD is an audio commentary with director Jeremy Haft and writer Jeffrey Reddick. This is an interestingly candid chat, as the pair speak openly about the lack of budget on the film and how they had to compromise and make due with what they had. They also talk about scenes which were shot and deleted, but alas are not to be found on this DVD.





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Review by Mike Long. All Right Reserved. 2006. ©