Film Review: Vampire Academy

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Plot: Lissa Dragomir (Lucy Fry) is a Moroi, and heir to vampire royalty. When Lissa and her Dhampir guardian Rose Hathaway (Zoey Deutch) return to St. Vladimir Academy, someone starts threatening Lissa with bloody messages. It’s up to Rose to keep her safe, as she also tries to figure out who is targeting Lissa.

So Vampire Academy opens with the title flashing across the screen in red as M.I.A’s “Bad Girls” blasts from the speakers. Seriously, what the hell do you want from me? It’s Vampire Academy! I could have been home playing Batman: Arkham City collecting hidden Riddler trophies or something, but instead I’m watching “OMFG TTYL, it’s Vampires, #highschooldrama facebook-gram: The Movie.” Cut me a break. This is just a really bad high school movie with vampirisms. That’s it. That’s all you need to know. I guess you want more reasons though…fine.

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Let’s start with the dialogue…yikes. I honestly think someone took this screenplay, copy and pasted Twitter conversations among teenagers, and there you have it…Vampire Academy. It’s just the worst teenage acronym filled mind numbing dialogue I’ve ever heard. I’m not going to say it’s like getting hit repeatedly with baseball bats, but wiffle ball bats isn’t too far off. I really love how before the BIG DANCE, the main character makes the immortal proclamation of “let’s make tonight our bitch.” It’s lines like that throughout the whole movie, just non-stop. But aside from the dialogue, the first twenty minutes is nothing but poorly laid out exposition. They try and present the back story in quirky fashion, but it just made it that much more annoying.

Speaking of annoying, let’s get to the characters. Zoey Deutch plays Rose Hathaway, a guardian vampire in training, and part of the Dhampir tribe. They protect the Moroi, the magical “we can control earth, water, and fire” vampires. Don’t care about the plot? Neither do I. The problem with Rose is that the script goes out of its way to make her that quirky/tomboy type character who we’ve seen a hundred times. They lay it on so thick, it’s maddening. Rose is relentless, with quirky line after quirky line, just quirky quirk quirky mcquirky qurik. OMFG, just leave me alone! I don’t blame the actress as much as I do the director (Mark Waters).

Then we have a cavalcade of forgettable walking clichés. The mean girl. Check. The over-bearing disciplinarian headmaster. Check. The serious stoic good-looking older hero who the protagonist falls in love with. Check. There’s also a bunch of guy characters, but seriously, they all run together for me. I can’t recall any of them. They were all varying degrees of good looking Hollywood types who dressed in clothes so black, even Batman’s darkest cape wouldn’t be able to compete.

The other main character other than Rose is Lissa, played by Lucy Fry. Lissa is the Moroi who Rose protects. She has a healing power that’s super duper rare, tragic back story, she’s sort of timid, but has to eventually rise up and take the throne, yadda, yadda, yadda…completely forgettable. But don’t worry, because there’s plenty of groundbreaking scenes to make up for her underwritten character, such as the bully making water from the fountain hit her in the face.

Photo Credit: Laurie Sparham - © 2013 - Blood Sisters Ltd.
Photo Credit: Laurie Sparham – © 2013 – Blood Sisters Ltd.

Other then Rose and Lissa, the unofficial third “BFF” of the group is Natalie, played by Modern Family’s Sarah Hyland. Just as a side note, can you imagine Hyland inviting all her Modern Family co-stars to a screening of this? Just the thought of Ed O’Neill sitting in a movie theater watching Vampire Academy is hilarious to me. But I digress, because this character was unbearable. She’s the classic nerd who gets excited and talks ad nauseam whenever something gossipy arises at the academy.

As I mentioned before, this is a high school movie combined with vampires. The vampire elements are bland and tired though, but more importantly, I just can’t take your film seriously when your two main characters decide to go on a shopping spree at a time when Lissa’s life is most threatened. Ugh. And whenever they show vampires training at the academy, whether it be martial arts or magical classes, it looks like a P-level Harry Potter…just laughable. The fact that they make references to Twilight fan fiction, glittering vampires, and Hot Topic just makes it that much more obnoxious. It’s like, “Oh, I bet you were going to make these jokes, but we beat you to it. So there.” Good for you…your movie still stinks.

Photo by Laurie Sparham - © 2013 - Blood Sisters Ltd.
Photo by Laurie Sparham – © 2013 – Blood Sisters Ltd.

The first half is absolutely dreadful, but amidst all my ranting and raving, I have to admit it gets a little better. The film becomes tolerable and somewhat entertaining, and despite how annoying Rose was at first, she starts to grow on you. I would like to see what Zoey Deutch could do in a better written film. The other likable actor was Danila Kozlovsky who plays Dimitri, the most skilled of the Dhampir guardians and Rose’s mentor/crush.

Many of you might be thinking, “this film clearly wasn’t made for you, maybe teenagers will like it.” That’s fine, and I’m sure some will. This film has a lot of similarities to Harry Potter though, where many of the key characters are also teenagers, yet they aren’t subjected to awful dialogue, cliché back stories, and annoying characters. There are also much superior high school movies I’ve seen that deal with fitting in and bullying, such as Mean Girls, which ironically this director also helmed. So while I may not be a teenager anymore, I’ve seen plenty of other films of this ilk do it waaaaaay better, so I don’t feel bad about trashing this. They also do the obligatory, “let’s set up for a sequel that won’t happen” scene at the end. Yeah, that scene can join the endings to such other classics as Super Mario Brothers, I Am Number Four, and Green Lantern as sequels that are only being made in parallel universes.

Also, in regards to vampires, I’ve never been a vampire aficionado, but any cool or bad ass quality they once had is gone forever. Between this, Twilight, and many other recent vampire adaptations, the mythology has been completely ruined for me, and I’m not sure it’s even salvageable at this point. All these whiney vampire incarnations we’ve gotten the last few years make the Count from Sesame Street seem like a Blade villain for crying out loud.

The tagline on the poster was “They Suck at School.” Well, this movie just plain…you get the idea.

Rating: 4 out of 10 (Really Bad)

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Daniel Cohen is the hard-boiled Film Editor for the Pop Break. Besides reviews, Daniel writes box office predictions, Gotham reviews and Oscar coverage. He can also be found on the Breakcast. If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow's fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.

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