Sunday Night Movie Night: Tamara

Okay, so technically it’s not Sunday any more, but in my family the second day of Easter is celebrated as if it were a Sunday (plus, yesterday I was too busy with going over to my sister’s house to witness her two-year-old’s first ever chocolate Easter egg hunt – so cute! – so I didn’t have time to spill my thoughts on a movie). And yes, I do realise it’s not evening/night yet, but then again: when you divert from your normal routine, you might as well do it properly otherwise there’s no fun in it at all. If you go bad, better do it good, right? ;)

Anyway, moving on to the point of discussion: le movie of this week. I have to admit I lent the DVD from the same sister with the cute son (and daughter) I mentioned before, but its box has been collecting dust behind my TV ever since… well, she gave it to me all those years ago. I’m slightly ashamed, but at least I saw it now (and am ready to return it).
It’s a fairly unknown film, which is completely comprehensible when you watch it (e.g.: it’s crap, haha), but the joke is there’s someone in my family with the same name as the main character, so there you go.

"Sorry Mrs. Natolly, but Tamara wants you dead."
“Sorry Mrs. Natolly, but Tamara wants you dead.”

Synopsis: A nerdy girl gets bullied severely in high school. She’s got an obsessive crush on the only (male) teacher in the school, and this is used by her bullies to pull a mean prank on her. Of course, as is always the case in films like these, the prank goes horribly wrong and the girl, Tamara, ends up dead. The responsible students naturally decide to just get rid of her body and remain silent about it for the rest of their lives, but they don’t know poor innocent-looking Tamara is quite the expert when it comes to black magic. She’s done a spell to bind her love/crush/teacher to her, and the only thing she lacked to do was to shed some blood for him. But since her nasty co-students have done this for her, Tamara is enabled to rise from the dead and… go back to school. To finish off with her bullies and set her claws into her teacher-love.

Apart from a terrible story line, this movie is bad on all fronts. Let me work my way through them one by one:

Story line
Simplicity is key, but most film makers forget about this often. They want to put so many neat things in one movie, they lose sight of what’s important: the story. The main idea here was that a nerdy, bullied girl gets accidentally murdered by some fellow students. Since this is far from original, the writers attempted to make it more juicy by letting the girl crawl back from beyond. You know, because she’s a witch and all. The theme of this movie, therefore, is revenge: Tamara wants her bullies, her killers, dead. One by one. Awesome, you’d say. This is a good base for some slasher-scenes.
But instead of sticking to this simple, yet promising ground idea, here’s what’s added to give it some more schwung:

  • A girl who sticks up for Tamara and doesn’t want to bully her. She’s not really friends with Tamara, and somehow ends up on the bullies’ side when they pull their petty prank on the nerd. But even so, why she’s not ignoring Tamara or avoiding her is left wide open. It just is.
  • Jesse, the nice girl’s boyfriend. He’s completely redundant. There’s no reason why he’s in the movie, let alone why he’s invited to the “party” (read: prank which kills off Tamara eventually). There’s no depth in his character whatsoever. We don’t need him. Thank the Lord he dies.
  • Apparently Tamara is a good journalist, since her little piece on their school’s football team’s drug use is printed in the local paper (or was it the school paper? Not exactly clear). This is mildly played out as the motive for two of the team’s players, and one’s girlfriend, to lure Tamara to a motel where she thinks she’s going to have sex with her teacher (but instead she gets murdered). Do we need this motive? Nope. And even if it was necessary, why only two football players? Are they the only ones using performance enhancing drugs? Or are they the only ones that hate Tamara enough to kill her?
  • Roger the nerd. No idea what he’s doing in the film, apart from providing bully Shawn with a video recorder (but Shawn could have bought one himself, so…). Roger is redundant, yet we learn, right before he gets murdered, how he had attempted suicide. Why do we need to know this? No idea. He’s a flat character, there was no reason nor need to announce he’s depressed. If Tamara hadn’t told us, she’d still have killed him and we’d still not have cared.
  • Tamara’s father and mother. Her mother apparently ran away because her father’s a drunk. Because she left her daughter with that man, I assume she wasn’t such a great mother after all. Anyway, during the movie this fact is repeated a few times, but it doesn’t add anything to the story; it simply makes no sense. The only thing we learn from this is that Tamara has got her black magic-habits from her run-away mother. Woohoo.
    Her dad, on the other hand, is not only a drunk, but also likes his daughter a little bit more than he should. There’s no scenes explaining this, nor is there anything in Tamara’s behaviour that’s explained by her dad being too interested in his little girl (apart from the fact where she states this and then kills him). There seems to be nothing wrong with Tam’s dad, until the scene where she puts an evil spell on him. Added juice, presumably (no pun intended), but out of the blue and unnecessary.

None of these extra added backgrounds make the movie any better. So why add them? They should have used those resources to add more extras to make the scenes look less empty, focus on the killings, and maybe provide some better special effects.

If your story is bad, make up for it by getting some good actors. At least Tamara managed to amaze me with the fact that not a single person in the movie was capable of delivering a good performance. Seriously, none!
I had my doubts about the dad for a moment, but then he had his dying scene and that was just terrible. Hilarious and sad at the same time.

It’s really hard to imagine this movie is from the creator of Final Destination (the first one). Maybe those actors weren’t all that either, but at least the story was nice and I remember there was some genuine-like screaming involved. Whereas in Tamara all you get when someone dramatically leaps from a rooftop in order to kill the beast and save humanity is a mild: “Uh”  from the bystanders (please note the absence of an exclamation mark there).

Background Music
Okay, so your story line is too weak and stuffed with useless added information, and your actors aren’t great either. What you need to make your film watch-able is good background music. Because let’s face it, if the sounds are okay, at least it makes your movie fun to watch.
Tamara opens with a scene that displays the leading lady’s love for the occult. By the time the camera catches an image of Satan and a pentagram, the evil, dark music swells and changes into a happy, upbeat rhythm.

I rest my case.

Special Effects
I hate worms. I loathe them. I detest them. They make me scream, cry and run away hysterically. The ones coming from Roger’s arm: I barely noticed them. Why? Because the arm was so obvisouly fake, I was too occupied with thinking: “Omg, seriously? That’s so badly done!” I hardly noticed my arch enemies.
I can’t watch Saw because I can’t watch people cutting off body parts. But when Roger was done with his fake arm and started to cut off his ear and tongue (and then poked himself in the eye with his knife), all I could do was laugh.
Well, what can I say. Tamara‘s special effects really were… well, special.

Entertainment Level
Tamara is rated 16 and up, according to my DVD box. It should be rated 16 and down, according to me. It’s a hilarious movie, but only because it is SO disastrous on SO many levels. The story is bad, the acting is bad, the effects are bad… it’s no surprise I never heard of this film before. But, if you’re in for a laugh, this is a title not to forget. At least not until you’ve seen it. Then you just want to forget it as quickly as possible.

Favourite scene:
Normally my sarcastic self would say “the ending” when asked what my favourite scene of a bad movie was. But this one actually had a part in which I laughed even louder than during the rest of the film. It’s when Tamara’s gone all devilish and bad, and tells her father off for “loving his bottle” more than his wife. She then proceeds to enchant him with her dark magic, and forces him to “finish off the whole bottle”. When she leaves, she reminds him there’s more in the fridge :’)

"You really do love that bottle, don't you daddy?"
“You really do love that bottle, don’t you daddy?”



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