As I prepared to watch this movie, I just had a feeling that this was going to be something special, something that would really knock me over somehow -- despite the fact it's a direct-to-DVD release from Lions Gate, it didn't sound all that original and would almost certainly be rather predictable, and I had never heard of any of the actors and actresses in the cast. That feeling I had turned out to be right on the money. I would just like to thank the director, the casting director, and whoever else was involved in casting Jenna Dewan as Tamara because this young lady is talented, captivating, and absolutely, positively, drop-dead gorgeous. I thought I had seen sexy women before, but no one can hold a candle to Jenna Dewan. This is the kind of woman who makes you want to quit your job, take off to Hollywood, and spend the rest of your life just trying to get a glimpse of her in the flesh. I am totally smitten, as you can tell. Dewan bears a striking resemblance to Denise Richards -- I swear she could be Denise's younger, even more beautiful sister.
With its I Know What You Did Last Summer meets Devil in the Flesh meets Jawbreaker meets The Craft kind of storyline, Tamara doesn't really break any new ground -- but it does rise above its derivative origins and forge an identity all its own. Screenwriter Jeffrey Reddick maintains a surprisingly tight plot throughout, leaving few questions unanswered, and he even succeeds in giving us a final scene that isn't silly or campy at all. When I start describing the plot points, you'll think you've seen all of them before, and you have, but you probably haven't seen them all brought together in such impressive fashion as this. It all starts with your basic high school outcast. Tamara is a rather plain girl (and I must say the makeup department deserves some kind of major award for actually making Jenna Dewan look plain) with no friends, an unhappy home life, a crush on her English teacher, Mr. Natolly (Matthew Marsden), and an intense interest in witchcraft. She is also smart, which ends up getting her in trouble when her article about performance-enhancing drug use among some of the school's athletes is published. Dumb jocks don't get mad, they get even, and they cook up a particularly vicious prank to play on poor Tamara -- dragging the local AV geek and a couple of new students into the plot with them. As so often happens, things get out of hand and -- well, Tamara dies. The others get rid of the body and swear to never mention the night's events again.
Everything would probably have been fine if Tamara hadn't shown up for class a couple of days later. As if that's not surprising enough, plain old Tamara has suddenly turned into the hottest woman on the face of the earth. Needless to say, Tamara's not about to forgive and forget. Now she could just go around killing all of those who wronged her, but that wouldn't be all that fun, would it? And we certainly don't want any blood getting on any of her new slinky dresses or ruining her makeup. Since she now has the power to control anyone with just a touch, her revenge is going to be all the sweeter. Besides, she also needs time to work on stealing Mr. Natolly away from his wife.
In case you're wondering -- yes, there will be blood. And gore, too. The special effects are a little uneven, but they're pretty satisfying overall. A couple of the earlier scenes look ridiculously fake, but the first of Tamara's victims dies a most satisfying, impressive death, and all of the later scenes are more than satisfactorily done. The crew even takes the time to add little unnecessary details, earning them extra kudos in my book. There's nothing here to make a gorehound flinch, but I would expect a few eeeewwwws from your average viewer. Technically, I wouldn't even classify Tamara as horror; it's really more of a psychological thriller with strong horror overtones.
Obviously, I think Tamara is an excellent film. It's particularly impressive for a direct-to-DVD release. It comes from the creator of Final Destination, so it should be no surprise that the plot is much more than a mere excuse for stringing a few death scenes together. For me, though, this film is all about Jenna Dewan, who simply owns the camera. This young lady ought to be a superstar -- I know I'd gladly pay to watch her do anything at all.