Tamara | Film | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper



Horror films with teen-age female villains often adopt a sympathetic view, suggesting that the girl is as much a victim as the people she's mutilating. Her actions are a lashing out at the cruel world she's forced to come of age in ... a world of sneering cliques, neglectful parents and a cursed gift. Tamara takes this familiar approach, but the story is burdened by laughable dialogue and a total lack of horror.



Directed by Jeremy Haft, Tamara opens with a Carrie-esque scenario, complete with taunting and a locker-room confrontation. Then the awkward ugly duckling Tamara (Jenna Dewan) goes home to a drunken, sexually abusive father and her book of witchcraft. By publishing an editorial about steroid use among the small-town school's top jocks, Tamara adds a vengeful athlete to her hellish adolescence. When the jock's actions result in her death, it provide the final step in a love spell Tamara was too chicken to finish: The spell requires her to spill blood, something she does all over a motel-room carpet.


Tamara rises from the dead to claim the affections of a boyishly handsome English teacher, and to deal out some hurting to those who killed her. She returns from her Lazarus act as a cunning, confident vixen who sashays into class purring, "Sorry I'm late. I nearly died getting here."


Seduced by her new look and magic touch, her former tormentors become slaves to her bidding.

This is where the scares are supposed to start, but the horrors are ridiculous. From what I can gather, screenwriter Jeffrey Reddick (Final Destination and sequels) must be terrified of binge eating and gay sex. In one scene, Tamara causes one bulimic girl to ravenously dig into a vegetable platter, while in the next room the athlete and his best bro give into her man-on-man demands. Oh, the humanity! Even the more effective moments of seemingly self-inflicted torture ... like the school nerd cutting out his own tongue ... are just cheap gore without a suspenseful build-up.


Per the generic formula, it's up to the open-minded new kid to restore order. While the others seem cool with the fact that Tamara is a witch zombie, the streetwise Los Angeleno Chloe (Katie Stuart) is the only one willing to point out, "There's something wrong here."


The shaky plotline and teen stereotypes could have produced some giggly enjoyment (as in one of Reddick's Destination sequels), but unfortunately, the slow pacing and general disregard for production values gives Tamara an unbearable straight-to-video quality.

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