Vampire Academy is a crumpled mess of a movie that can’t make heads or tails of itself. Its character catalogue is made up of the kind of attractive teenagers you’d usually find in trashy reality TV shows, and its plot twists and turns in all sorts of directions until even the perky energetic young girls who live within it have no idea what’s going on.
The title, the posters, and the novel on which this film is based, promise vampires and an academy. Both of these we get. What we don’t get is any sense of seriousness. Grave things are going on at this academy; conniving schemes and potential murders are afoot, and yet no one is deeply affected by any of it. The lead girl, Rosemarie, takes every new development with a minuscule pinch of salt, and when she begins some physical training, she’s more focused on her Fabio look-alike trainer than on the perilous matters at hand.
Rosemarie (Zoey Deutch) is one of three subspecies of vampire. Her kind is known as the Dhampirs, whose primary purpose in life is to protect the Morois, a highly sophisticated and respected race of mortal vampires who, as we learn from an opening narration, does not sparkle in the sunlight. I guess membership for Edward Cullen is not an option. Why the Morois require guardians is a question I am not fit to answer. If this series has any loyal scholars I doubt they’d be able to provide an answer either. It’s just that kind of vampiric phenomenon.
The third race is called Strigoi. What a bunch of thugs these ones are. They are the strongest, palest, and most malicious of the three. Where the first two races avoid feeding on human blood, the Strigoi live on it. We don’t see much of them in this movie, but I suspect they will make more appearances in the sequels (the novel series on which Vampire Academy is based stretches for a promising six books).
When it comes down to it, though, all the different types of vampires don’t matter. The story could’ve worked with ordinary teenage girls and ordinary Fabios. I suppose vampires add that dangerous touch. Why make Rosemarie and her best friend, Princess Vasilisa, ordinary when fangs and magical powers and telepathic abilities are far more interesting?
Joining Rosemarie and Vasilisa (Lucy Fry) is a hodgepodge of supporting characters. Mr Fabio is a Dhampir named Dimitri (Danila Kozlovsky), who puts his duties as a protector on top of his desire to love. The headmistress of St. Vladimir’s Academy (ho ho) is a suave photo shoot model named Ellen Kirova (Olga Kurylenko), who amuses herself by being cold and heartless just to throw us off, and we are expected to thank her for it. A careful performance is delivered by Gabriel Byrne as a sickly vampire named Victor Dashkov, whose intentions are perhaps less than admirable. And a rowdy bunch of fellow students provides the usual backdrop of nasty bullies whose laughing impulses are always set to Irritatingly High, and nasty impulses to Disappointingly Low.
Some angles start out interesting but are later forgotten by the story. The idea of having an educational institute that operates only at night, for example, is tantalising, but is never expanded upon.
I realise at this point that I have yet to outline the plot of this movie. I don’t think there is a need to. I’ve mentioned the vampires. I’ve mentioned the academy. I’ve mentioned that dark things are happening and that some characters are less trustworthy than others. Let’s just leave it at that. I don’t want to spoil anything, nor do I feel the need to.
Many critics have unfavourably compared Deutch’s performance in Vampire Academy to Ellen Page’s in Juno. I have not seen Juno so therefore cannot make a comment of my own. Deutch is a Disney actress; her young career is rooted in shows like The Suite Life On Deck. To me, she still seems like a Disney actress in Vampire Academy. The last time I checked, Disney didn’t have a TV show about bloodsucking undead students.
Best Moment | Honestly, none.
Worst Moment | Honestly, pretty much all of it.