Just when the vampire craze was about to be put back into its grave, the film industry decided to bring it back with the film “Vampire Academy.” Based on the book series of the same name by Richelle Mead, the film takes place at St. Vladimir’s Academy, a Hogwarts-esque school where the Moroi — vampires who respect humanity — study magic, and the Dhampir — guardians brought up to protect the Moroi — study martial arts and survival skills to defeat the Strigoi, an evil breed of vampires. Rose Hathaway (Zoey Deutch) is a Dhampir sworn to protect her best friend, Lissa Dragomir (Lucy Fry), who just happens to be the heir to the throne of Something That Was Never Clearly Explained.
There’s nothing much to say about this film. It was made purely for the fans to see the world come to life and that’s all who will really enjoy it. This film spends so much time trying to explain the backstory and origins that there was just not enough time to develop an engaging plot or memorable characters. The only actresses who had any bit of substance were the leads, Deutch and Fry. Their chemistry was spot-on, and it was highly believable that these two could be best friends on screen — and even possibly off screen, too. What’s even better is that they actually moved their faces to show emotion, unlike some of the side characters. Danila Kozlovsky, who plays Rose’s older mentor, Dimitri, didn’t even look like he was capable of smiling, unless it had to do with furthering his inappropriately romantic relationship with Rose.
Ever since the “Twilight” series emerged, vampire lore has become severely diluted — and this issue is apparent in this film as well. Pretty much every vampire in “Vampire Academy” has to meet two requirements: be British, and look as melancholy as Robert Pattinson. Lissa’s love interest, Christian (Dominic Sherwood) nailed both of these requirements to a T. Any sort of “blood sucking” involved a little nip on the neck and the “fangs” that they were supposed to have just looked like small deformities.
With all the bullying and slut-shaming that is directed toward Lissa and Rose, I wouldn’t have noticed that they were supposed to be vampires if it wasn’t for the title. From the blood-written threats to the dead foxes hanging from doors, the plot is driven by attempting to have viewers figure out which cruel student or authority figure is responsible for these “pranks.” However, besides the bloodstained threats and calling Rose a “blood whore,” there was nothing really inherently vampirish about the side characters. With the mixture of humans and vampires at the academy, I had a hard time keeping track of which species was which. They didn’t have pale skin, red eyes or any other stereotypical vampire indicators. They just seemed like hormonal teenagers who just happened to have a craving for blood.
But what made this film annoying to watch was the dialogue. Even though it was effective to have Rose portrayed as a smartass, it was completely overdone in her dialogue. Everything that came out of her mouth had to do with some kind of pop culture reference. She teaches the Moroi what hashtags and Facebook statuses are, and even goes as far as assuring us that while the Moroi are vampires that can walk in the sun, they don’t sparkle. And when she’s not trying to teach vampires about modern technology, her witty retorts and rebellious character do not match someone who is sworn to guard a vampire for the rest of their life. I’m not sure if screenwriter Daniel Waters was purposely making fun of teenage girls and their speech, or if he really thinks that they go out of their way to mention every pop culture reference they know in a single sentence.
Even with a bestselling series as source material, and the writer-director duo behind such famous works as “Mean Girls” and “Heathers,” there was nothing quotable or anything that stood out about this film. It was just another young adult movie trying to cash in on the vampire genre before it was too late. At least if it was called “Zombie Academy,” the blood and gore would have been a nice distraction from all the soap opera drama and romance.
Rating: 1.5 stars