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'Tamara'

Tamara, written by Final Destination scribe Jeffrey Reddick, is a Carrie knockoff that survives solely on the repetitive pleasures of genre. Our gal Tam (Jenna Dewan) is a dowdy Wiccan who pines after her sensitive English teacher (Matthew Marsden) and is repeatedly sassed by 'roided-up jocks and the ladies who love them. A cruel prank goes awry, and Tam gets snuffed. Rising from the grave in a fab miniskirt ensemble (death also does wonders for her complexion), revenge is tops on her to-do list, albeit sapped of Carrie's sexualized obsessions. The actors are harshly lit and poorly blocked, nervously loitering until they're cued to panic. The performances are wildly inconsistent, but Dewan and Katie Stuart (Tam's punk friend Chloe) emote petulance and sobriety, respectively, with calm professionalism. It's not all dross—the film studiously avoids glorifying the revenge killings by switching our sympathies to Chloe once the blood begins to spill in a grueling take of on-air self-mortification. Genre jolts arise in spite of stylistic failures, wringing familiar tingles from empty corridors and narrow escapes that echo richer scares from more resourceful movies.The Leopard Man, anyone?


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