Tamara Movie Review

Written by Sham

DVD released by Lionsgate

Directed by Jeremy Haft
Written by Jeffrey Reddick
2005, 94 minutes, Rated R
DVD released on May 9th, 2006

Jenna Dewan as Tamara Riley
Matthew Marsden as Mr. Bill Natolly
Katie Stuart as Chloe
Chad Faust as Jesse
Melissa Elias as Kisha
Claudette Mink as Sheila
Gil Hacohen as Patrick
Chris Sigurdson as Mr. Riley
Bryan Clark as Shawn
Marc DeVign as Roger


High school is Hell.

It’s a time young people are just finding their voice in the world and making some of the biggest decisions of their life. It’s also a time of inclusive and cruel competition. Who hasn’t encountered a bully, spread rumors, picked on someone different, or gone to outrageous lengths to outdo an opponent?

It’s survival of the fittest. Kill or be killed.

Tamara (Jenna Dewan – Waterborne), the latest outcast-turned-vengeful psycho, has literally taken this to a whole new level. She’s the typical high school exile — a misconstrued and shy girl without any friends. Her life at home is a mess, as well. Her mother is long gone, and her father (Chris Sigurdson – The Law of Enclosures) not only misunderstands her, but doesn’t care to appreciate her, either. “Of all the habits you could’ve got from that no-good mother of yours,” he says to Tamara one evening, “you couldn’t learn to cook.”

Tamara’s only infatuations lie in witchcraft, writing, and her young English teacher, Mr. Natolly (Matthew Marsden – Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid).

Things finally look up for Tamara when her latest story, “Steroids in Small Town U.S.A.,” is published for the school paper. Unfortunately, two football players (Gil Hacohen and Bryan Clark) and their girlfriend (Melissa Elias – Falcon Beach) are particularly angry about it. Faster than you can say “piss in a cup,” the group of athletes devise a plan to get revenge on Tamara, hitting her where it really hurts — they’ll pretend to be her English teacher and lure her to an isolated hotel room to humiliate her! Ignorant to the threesome’s malicious plans, nice couple Jesse and Chloe (Chad Faust and Katie Stuart) and nerdy boy Roger (Marc DeVign) tag along for the ride assuming it’s a party.

But when the prank goes too far, and Tamara meets an untimely end, they all bury her body deep within in the woods. No one has to know. Fortunately for Tamara, that whole interest in witchcraft really pays off! Tamara returns from the grave, not dead and not as a nasty corpse, but as one seriously hot and pissed off bitch. All she wants is brutal and ruthless vengeance on those who did her wrong… and maybe a life-long relationship with that English teacher of hers.

Following Carrie’s footsteps, Tamara, the debut horror film from Jeremy Haft, is an unforgiving horror flick with style and sass. Haft, along with Final Destination screenwriter Jeffrey Reddick, have put a twist on the genre by allowing the characters to kill off each other. You’ll be shocked to learn that Tamara doesn’t kill anyone in the film herself, but the antagonists are shamed (or slaughtered) because of their own flaws. Alcoholics have to consume entire bottles of beer. Bulimic girls have to eat everything in sight. Homophobic jocks have to kiss and screw each other.

Our protagonist, the sexy Tamara, is a joy to watch. Besides being beautiful and charismatic, star Jenna Dewan is also a great actress. She practically plays two characters in the film and hooks the viewer in with each demanding scene. You feel sorry for Tamara as an outsider, and you just die when she comes back from the grave. Supporting actors play significant roles in the movie as well, and they all do it with a sense of believability. Matthew Marsden, the biggest name in the film, plays Mr. Natolly with intricacy and allure. Katie Stuart as Chloe is also a lot of fun. She’s the moral reasoning behind the group of antagonists and, despite her flaws, she’s still an extremely likable character.

By avoiding common clichés and mainstream rivals, the film is a hell of a lot more fun than it has any right to be. However, all good things must come to an end. The conclusion of the movie, which takes place in the most isolated hospital since Rick Rosenthal’s Halloween II, is a disappointment. The movie is unrealistic, sure, but the hospital sequence is downright ridiculous. There’s even a (redundant) plot consistency that makes enough room for a sequel.

In a time where a horror sequel makes the biggest profit and a PG-13 monstrosity gets some of the best reviews, it’s nice to see a little film like Tamara calling all the shots and turning the genre upside down. Do you feel the blood going to your head yet, Hollywood?


Movie: 3.5 Stars – Despite a weak climax,Tamara is a brutish and clever horror flick.


In a new millennium of remakes, sequels, and dry PG-13 horror films, it’s nice to see a movie like Tamara getting the props it deserves.

Picture, audio, and special features will not be graded as this was a screener.

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