Well, things could have been worse; I could have been forced to review Saw II on DVD, or gone to get that colon exam they keep recommending I get on TV. Things could have been a lot better too. Don't expect to see this film get a nomination for an Oscar or even a Fangoria award. It was, in a word, tepid.
Tamara is a typical story of teenage revenge. Mousy Tamara Riley has the hots for her English teacher (who happens to be married to the school guidance counselor), is ridiculed as a nerd, is hated for writing a story in the school newspaper about steroid abuse, and lives above a rundown electrical repair shop with her drunkard dad. If they wanted to lay it on a little thicker, they could have given her a glass eye or a stutter, but who wants to overdo things, right?
Pissed off about getting busted for steroids, a pair of jocks decide to pull a prank on her, by video-taping her getting ready for a fake rendezvous with her English teacher. When she discovers the trick, a fight breaks out and Tamara is accidentally killed. Oops!
Doesn't this sound kind of familiar? It should. It is the basis for god knows how many of these teen revenge movies over the years, at least since the King/Hooper bloodfest, Carrie in '74 and probably back to the beach monster movies of the ‘50s.
What the prank-pulling jocks and their accidental cohorts do not realize is that Tamara was into playing with athame (the black ritual dagger witches use -- you've now learned your new word for the day) and candles and pentagrams and voodoo dolls.
Nor do they realize she cast a spell that would let her come back from the dead and control people with a touch. All it needed was a blood sacrifice, which they supplied. Ooops! I wish some of my Wiccan friends could teach me a spell like that! I know a few folks who need their heads rewired.
So, Tamara shows up in class the day after being buried in an unmarked grave, looking like she spent a week getting a make-over at Hotties ‘R' Us, and of course wackiness ensues in a Charmed-meets-Freddy Krueger manner.
Two high points in this film were the bulimic chick gnawing her own fingers off and (I can't believe I'm writing this) the implied gay love scene between two jocks. At least it showed some level of creativity in the writing. It reminded me of Christian Slater faking the gay relationship between the two jocks in Heathers way back in the day, or the painters scene in American Pie II. Oh, I guess that means even that was a rehash.
In short, this film lacked anything to make it terribly original.
The cinematography was slick enough for it to look like a professional film, but not so good as to make me go, "Oooh! Aaaah!"
The chicks are hot, but you never see a single ta-ta, though you do get a few good cleavage and bra shots with modestly thick bras that do not even hint at any anatomy beneath -- Sorry, you horn dogs. Look somewhere else for your cheap thrills.
The gore factor was pretty good, with some excellent (if slightly low key) special effects; and the zombie make-up on Tamara (seen in glimpses throughout the movie) was pretty well done. If it did not look like Tom Savini's pumped up zombies from the '90 remake of Night of the Living Dead I would have said it was excellent. As it was, it was one more rehash of someone else's work.
Looking back on this review, it seems pretty negative, and I wonder why I gave this thing a five . . . . The fact is that even though so many of the elements seem to be retreads from other movies, it all gels together well. The story is fluid, and clear and well paced.
There are a few scenes with major cringe factor going for them, and the characters actually acted like they had half a brain between them; they called the cops once things got out of control! How often does that happen in a horror movie?
So, if you don't mind seeing things you've seen before (Hey, how many movies have there been?) and don't go into it expecting anything but a bit of a fun ride, go see it, but wait for it to reach the second run theaters (unless it goes straight to DVD).
Feel free to rent it for the three bucks it will cost you, but please, for the love of all that's holy, do not see it in a theater where you are going to pay fifteen bucks plus popcorn, and not be able to search back through it to study the gore shots and gratuitous cleavage. It just is not worth that much.