Tamara

Tam1

They thought they had accidentally killed innocent geek Tamara during a prank gone wrong, but when the unattractive girl returns from the dead as an evil seductress, the group of high school stereotypes begin dying off one by one.

Aww, the fun days of high school, a time when you are taught how to fit in like a good little sheep, never question authority, and remain as perfect a drone as you possibly can. Oh yeah, you also get to learn that Algebra crap and a horrible watered down version of history, plus fun lessons in science and art that, unless you intend to become a scientist or an artist, will ultimately mean nothing to you. Not fitting in during your high school years and the ridicule that comes with it lets one know what it will be like once you enter society proper. Do I sound a little bitter? Well forgive me for being upset that my choice to consume the flesh of the living to continue my existence as a member of the living dead still hasn’t been accepted by all you lifest out there. That’s right, it’s my choice people. I eat what I want when I want. Anyways…nowhere are the thrills of high school rejection portrayed quite as well as Tamara.

Our friendly reminder of high school begins with what appears to be some kind of magic voodoo ritual before flashing to our title character, Tamera, a nerdy out of place teenager who spends her time fantasizing about her teacher and writing news articles for the school paper. One of these articles happens to be about a certain school jock and his addiction to “Performance Enhancers” that gets the hotheaded athlete angry enough to do serious harm. While the jocks and their girlfriends plot bloody revenge, poor Tamera is busy trying to use a love spell to get the teacher of her dreams to be hers. A devastated Tamera quickly realizes it hasn’t worked, that is until she gets a phone call from her beloved, a phone call that is really the jocks enacting their cruel plan. Their goal is to get Tamara to think she is going to be playing the horizontal mambo with her teacher, and they’ve set up a camera to catch it all on film. Unfortunately, their ill-conceived plan goes wrong and their victim ends up dead, since none of these fine upstanding citizens can afford jail time, they bury Tamara out in the swamp and wash their hands of the whole affair. It seems that while the jocks may be happy in their buried crime, fate has other plans for them, especially when dead and buried Tamara comes to school the next morning looking more like a model than a nerd. If the group of jocks thought they were done, they’ve yet to see what the new Tamara has in store for them.

Tam2

{This does not look like a woman I’d like to fuck with}

This movie sounded a lot like I Know What You Did Last Summer to me and we all know how much that movie sucked, so I was a little worried about watching it. I was pleasantly surprised to see it had more in common with Carrie than the aforementioned film, just with a little bit of voodoo zombie thrown in there for good measure. That’s the best way to describe it actually, like a modern day retelling of Carrie with a few voodoo twists and a lot more cruelty. A cruelty not only from the uncaring jocks, but from Tamara as well, who takes it above and beyond anything the jocks could have imagined. When she comes back, her desire for revenge has made her horrible enough to actually make you feel bad for the disgusting criminals who buried her in the swamp in the first place. That was one thing that made me like this film so much was the play on what it really meant to be cruel. Do we feel bad for the woman who was wronged but has become a monster in her quest for vengeance, or do we feel bad for the people who turned her that way in one act of terrible cruelty? Tamara begins the movie as a victim but ends it as the movie’s villain, a transition that was sudden and seamless and seemed to keep reminding me that even the nicest of us have a hidden cruelty that can be brought forth by tragic events.

Tam3

{Umm, actually, that doesn’t look like a woman I’d want to fuck with either}

Of course none of this could have been possible if it wasn’t for Jenna Dewan’s terrific performance as Tamara. She does a great job as both a nerdy, innocent little girl and a sexy, murderous woman. It was her performance that made this movie possible, but the other actors do a good job as well in their portrayal of the typical teen stereotypes (you know, jock, slut, stoner, tough guy, the usual suspects). There is only one character I didn’t care for and that’s the nerdy kid who doesn’t want to participate in the cruelty against Tamara. It’s not the actor’s fault, he does a good job, it’s just the fact that this character is too overused anymore. Don’t get me wrong, horror movies have been doing it for a long time, but it seems to me that the more PC this overly sensitive country of ours has gotten, the more this character seems to pop up just so we know there are a few good people left. It won’t ruin a movie by a long shot; it’s just a little personal annoyance is all. What sucks is it never was before the advent of political correctness so thanks all you thin skinned hippies for ruining it for me. Anyways…

Tam7

{Zombie political correctness}

There are a couple other things that made this one a good pick and one is the sometimes subtle, sometimes in your face comments on being a teenager in America. At its heart Tamara is a teen slasher that’s probably a bit more enjoyable if you’re around the age of 18, but it still has a deepness I didn’t expect. I expected just your standard teen fare like the god awful I Know What You Did Last Summer. It was nice to see a teen flick that actually handled issues such as Bulimia, teen alcoholism, social isolation, and repressed sexuality so well. It never goes into these issues so deep as to stray too far from its teen slasher mindset, and I wished it had because I think it would have been a true gem in a sea of thousands, but it still does a good enough job with it to make Tamara a couple steps above the standard genre fare. The story helps this out, being once again, a little bit better than your average teen horror flick. It’s not grandiose by a long shot, nor is it perfect, but it does help to push this one to the top of the heap.

Tam6

{Every 18 year old has been here before}

The other thing done well was the amazing camera work which made the atmosphere of the film dark and disturbing. I looked up the work of cinematographer Scott Kevan and wasn’t surprised to find a long list of movies with awesome camera work, movies where the camera’s excellent use saved what might not have been such a good movie otherwise, movies like Cabin Fever, Death Race, and The Losers. I’m not sure Tamara would have been terrible without him, but it was definitely made better thanks to his work.

Tam8

{A big zombie thank you to all the unsung heroes of a filmmaking crew}

There were unfortunately a few bad things about the movie too. One we’ve already touched upon which is the fact they didn’t take this film as deep as they could have. Doing that would have helped take this one up a notch, but the film’s other problem would have still brought it down…bad CGI. The effects in this movie are pretty poor, what sucks even more is the deaths themselves aren’t. The deaths are actually good in and of themselves, and for the most part very imaginative, but they are always ruined by the poor CGI used to make them. The thing I don’t get is every effect that was poor would have looked much better, and could have easily been done by ordinary practical effects. I just don’t understand why more film producers don’t use them. It cracks me up that I see low budget independent films that have much better special effects than their big budget cousins. Why, because thanks to monetary constraints they have to actually use their imaginations instead of turning to poor computer programs to do the thinking for them. Get the hint Hollywood.

Tam4

{Look at how much you’re making her cry Hollywood}

Still, Tamara is a very well done flick and an enjoyable watch that I’m actually very surprised slipped under the radar. It might not be perfect but it’s still better than a lot of the fodder out there. If you don’t believe me, check it out for yourself.

 

 

The Undead Review

 

Directed By: Jeremy Haft (Red Team, Grizzly Mountain)

Starring: Jenna Dewan (Step Up, American Virgin), Katie Stuart (Blackout, The Girl Next Door), Chad Faust (Saved, The 4400 {TV}), and Matthew Marsden (Black Hawk Down, Resident Evil: Extinction)

Released By: Lions Gate Film and Manitoba Film

Release Year: 2005

Release Type: Theatrical Release

MPAA Opinion: Rated R

About The Undead Review

When I was alive I was an asshole and after I died remained pretty much the same, if not a little worse. You’d think becoming a member of the walking dead would mellow a person out, no more worrying about awkward small talk with people, no more having to be politically correct, and the entire world is your upright, bipedal buffet. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun as hell to be a zombie, just somewhat irritating at times, especially those times you have to watch a lame movie or read a lame book. Thankfully, when I am forced to watch these films or read those books, I’ve got places like The Undead Review to bitch and moan to my heart’s content. {When he’s not devouring the living or sinking his teeth into a good film The Undead Review (Andy Taylor) spends his time writing his own stories or hunting down the paranormal. Oh, and did we mention his blind dog once saved the world?)
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