Directed by Jeremy Haft, 2005
It’s a pity when writing a review for a movie becomes an obligatory chore. I know Jeffrey Reddick and Jeremy Haft put a lot of love into Tamara. It’s the only recent Indie teen "slasher" I can think of that was actually shot on film and recieved a small – very small – theatrical push, so its a shame that the end product is such a wash. Maybe I’m just a sap, but I feel bad any time I have to euthanize someone else’s hard work that was obviously the best they had to offer. But hey, I was class heart-breaker, so I guess it’s just what I do:
Tamara is just no good.
It’s about the misunderstood, homely girl in school who gets accidentally killed by the jocks in her class. Yadda, yadda, yadda. Unlucky for them, and us, she was into witchcraft and miraculously comes back from the grave for vengeance. Yadda, yadda, yadda. I’ll give Reddick’s script credit for having her resurrection be known to the rest of the characters, instead of having her mysteriously kill people from the shadows like oh so many Last Summers or Urban Legends, but the whole, "comes back as the hottest girl in the school" shtick makes it pretty hard to take the movie seriously.
In addition to coming back as a temptress, she also has the ability to make her killers see their guilt before she hypnotizes them into doing her bidding. The first display of this is a silly, yet effectively cringe inducing, scene in which the out-of-place nerd kills himself over the high school’s television system. While delivering a "Hear no evil, Speak no evil, See no evil" speech he cuts off all the corresponding body parts. It’s just a sample of the poorly orchestrated manipulations that Tamara is responsible for throughout the 98 minutes.
The actors all try their hardest, but the majority of them just don’t have an A game to bring. Jenna Dewan is great as the ugly duckling Tamara, but once she’s transformed into super hottie, she’s never as intimidating as she’s meant to be. Matthew Marsden, who plays the sympathetic teacher she has a crush on, lets his British accent bleed in every now and then, which evokes a scoff or two. Katie Stuart is probably the best in the whole fleet, as the innocent girl who got wrapped up in the whole thing, but the jocks and their groupie girlfriend are indistinguishable from any other movie like this. Except one of them looks like a low-rent version of Eric Bana.
The only dialogue that stands out is the stuff that you don’t want to stand out, like when the A.V. club nerd takes a shot and says, "Now that is one quality libation!" I know nerds. I am a nerd. Nerds don’t actually talk like that. No one talks like that. That’s not a socially awkward phrase, that’s just over extended writing. Which is exactly the fault of the rest of the script. It tries too hard to be just different enough from every other movie that is like it. It could stand to mention that some of the film’s events are unpredictable, but at the same time, it’s not exactly a good thing if your script is unpredictable because the action you write is just plain stupid.
If this were a shot on Hi-Def, Direct-to-DVD flick, these faults would slide because they’d be expected, but since this movie did have more mainstream aspirations, it’s just asking for it. It’s a boring movie, with boring characters, boring deaths, a boring soundtrack and a boring ending. It doesn’t give me pleasure to rip into someone else’s valiant efforts, because I know my own amateur attempt at making a horror film was an utter piece of shit, but there’s no sugar coating it. Tamara is just bland filmmaking in almost every regard. I’d like to say that’s unfortunate, but it was just never in the stars for a script this mediocre.