In the tradition of all those other movies about schoolgirls delving into witchcraft and using special powers to get revenge on mean girls, I take a look at Tamara and The Woods.
Tamara is a teen movie that treads on very familiar territory…like an irresistible comfort food! It’s sort of like The Craft meets Carrie. Jenna Dewan-Tatum of American Horror Story and Witches of East End plays Tamara, a lonely young teen dabbling in witchcraft.
I’m hot for teacher!
She also has a huge crush on her pretty teacher (the bad guy from Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid), who decided to print her article exposing steroid use in school…which makes Tamara the prime target for the popular juice heads and their girlfriends.
Naturally, there’s one popular chick who feels bad for Tamara. But her friends have some cruel punishment in store for Tamara. And then things go terribly wrong. Just when they think they’ve taken care of Tamara for good, she walks into class a whole new sexy slut! Awesome.
Tamara fucks with her hot teacher and his wife. And she begins to get revenge on the kids who were present the night of the horrible “accident,” starting with some gruesome self-mutilation.
But the film pulls back from there, and Tamara gets much sweeter—and less gory—revenge. My particular fave is when she makes two of the popular guys go gay on each other. After all, the film is by gay screenwriter Jeffrey Reddick of Final Destination fame. But don’t be thinking that he had pull enough to let us see any actual lip-to-lip action. This pic is about the extent of it….
Tamara then targets her hot teacher’s wife, which delivers a great chase scene. From there, the movie gets a little scattered, with everyone eventually ending up at the hospital for the final act. But there’s some more relentless chasing and violence leading up to the final confrontation with Tamara. EEK!
However, the tag at the end of the film threatening that the horror will go on is the WORST! Sometimes it’s just better to let the credits role as soon as the baddie is dead. But this is one of those cheesy mainstream horror flicks, so I’m sure the producers insisted.
THE WOODS (2006)
The Woods is a whole different story. Heather, a troubled teen, is sent to an all-girl boarding school by her parents in 1965—and begins to suspect that everyone else is a witch!
I love this movie. It’s not a “boo!” scare movie. It slowly builds suspense as Heather is drawn into a state of paranoia, fearing there’s a conspiracy to hurt the students in the school.
Heather is played by Agnes Bruckner, who looks like a young Diane Lane and has appeared in other good horror flicks like Venom and The Pact. Heather is no meek victim. She’s a bitch herself, and she totally lets the mean girl in school have it whenever they get into it together. Heather also happens to have hints of magic powers herself. But she’s still afraid of the possibility of witches, and for good reason.
The Woods has the ominous feel of a 1970s supernatural occult film. It even gives off a Suspiria vibe at times. The amazing Patricia Clarkson plays the headmistress, and she and the teachers are all creepy.
Her a witch? NAH!
The girls all seem to be scared of something—and it might have to do with the urban legend they tell of three sisters who once came out of the woods and put a spell on the entire school. Eerie fog roles over the school at night, and girls start disappearing, leaving only a pile of leaves under the blankets on their beds. And just for good measure, Lesley Gore’s classic hits like “Just Let Me Cry” and “You Don’t Own Me” (I know, nothing will ever top Bette, Diane, and Goldie’s rendition) are heavily featured in the film.
And then something unexpected happens. With lots of time left in the film, Heather’s parents come to take her away from school! But don’t worry. As they drive away from the school, the trees in the woods make sure that they don’t get very far. That’s right. The trees are alive in The Woods, which makes it clear why Heather’s father is none other than…Bruce Campbell!
Despite the serious tone of the film, when Bruce begins to play a larger part in the last half hour, he delivers plenty of his trademark dry humor. And aside from the evil trees, there are other nods to Evil Dead, including Bruce going into a shed looking for a weapon.
The final segment of The Woods is fantastic. After a great chase scene, Heather lands right in the middle of a witches’ occult ritual. The horror gets hardcore here, with a macabre and gothic setting, witches floating through the darkness, and an axe playing a big role in finally adding a dose of gore to a previously tame horror flick.
Very few horror films these days manage to establish a really strong main character, carry you along with a tense and suspenseful story, throw in a dash of humor, and even deliver major creep factor and gruesome situations right before all is said and done. The Woods really has it all.