Vampire Academy, 2014
Directed by Mark Waters
Starring Zoey Deutch, Lucy Fry, Danila Kozlovsky, Gabriel Byrne, Dominic Sherwood, Olga Kurylenko, Sarah Hyland and Cameron Monaghan
Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, half human-half vampire, a guardian of the Moroi, peaceful, mortal vampires living discreetly within our world. Her calling is to protect the Moroi from bloodthirsty, immortal Vampires, the Strigoi.
Based off the book series of the same name, Vampire Academy is basically Twilight meets Harry Potter and is every bit as lazy as it sounds. It’s lack of subtly, terrible acting and dreadful script are just a few reasons as to why Vampire Academy fails so badly. Given a cinema release in the States but released straight-to-DVD in the UK, this is a movie that even the easily-led YA Enthusiasts would struggle to find positives.
Vampire Academy sees two teenage girls on the run from their school for vampires. One is a half-human, half-vampire named Rose who is sworn to protect vampire princess Lissa. They are quickly found and escorted back to school, but it looks like trouble is a-brewin’ as Lissa is the target of the Strigoi, a race of evil bad-guy vampires.
The movie is directed by Mark Waters, the man behind the brilliant Mean Girls but none of that charm or style carries over into this watered-down paint by numbers movie. It falls for the same problems most young-adult novel adaptations have in that it doesn’t know how to pace itself and it runs at a mile a minute to get exposition out of the way. This is troubling in Vampire Academy as the whole movie is nothing but exposition, so it’s just scene after scene of people talking at 100 miles per hour about nothing of any importance. It begs for a pause or a moment to take in what is happening, but before you know it you’re dragged into another scene of poorly written exposition.
Vampire Academy’s script is really at the heart of all of its problems. It feels like a first draft with placeholder text and it doesn’t treat its audience with any form of respect that they can work things out for themselves. The opening dialogue between Rose and Lissa is the most heavy-handed character exposition and is so laughably bad that you’ll question how the actors read the dialogue with a straight face. With that said, it’s not as though its leads Zoey Deutch and Lucy Fry could have given more from better as the pair give dreadful performances. Deutch tries desperately to copy Ellen Page’s Juno with an amazing level of failure and Fry’s bland, wide-eyed expressionless performance is a modern marvel of terrible acting. Whether it was the awful script of a lack of care from Waters, but no one in the movie gives a convincing line read – even credible actors like Gabriel Byrne and Modern Family’s Sarah Hyland are at their worst.
The biggest insult about Vampire Academy is that they think this lack of effort is acceptable. It feels like they went by the theory that, because it’s an adaptation of a YA novel, its legion of fans will see it and love it regardless of its actual quality. Perhaps the fault is in the source material and the filmmakers did the best with what they had, but it doesn’t even feel like anyone behind the camera really cared. For as awful as they are, Zoey Deutch and Lucy Fry are at least trying to give the movie some life, but the whole thing is a boring and bland waste of time that is as empty and vacuous as the general conceit of being Twilight meets Harry Potter.
The movie was given a green light for all the wrong reasons and it paid the price. Taking a global box office total of just $15 million against its $30 million budget, it looks like we won’t see adaptations of the other books in the series. Which means we can all sleep easier at night. It’s not just the characters in Vampire Academy that suck.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★
Luke Owen is one of Flickering Myth’s co-editors and the host of the Flickering Myth Podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @LukeWritesStuff.