Vampire Academy (2014)
Directed by Mark Waters
I’m over the age of 12, so I’d never even heard of Vampire Academy before seeing the movie (which is based on a series of bestselling tween books I also never heard of). While not exactly proud of my ignorance, I’m owning it here in print to assure you that whether or not you’re an existing fan, you’ll probably like it – yep, Vampire Academy is a likable film.
Flaunting their fangs and flipping their hair with equal flair are vampire students and BFFs Rose Hathaway (Deutch) and Lissa Dragomir (Fry) – Rose is a Dhamphir (half-human and half-vampire) and Lissa is a Moroi (a mortal vampire). Throw a few evil, immortal bloodsuckers known as Strigoi onto campus, and the “vampire academy” becomes a school of hard knocks indeed.
The overall vibe is darkly comic, slightly teenage angsty, and a little romantic, but Vampire Academy packs plenty of punch with edgy (albeit PG-13) violence incorporating fist fights, explosions, attack dogs, and sharp-pointies including knives and vampire’s bites. The basic story of good versus evil and keeping your friends close but your enemies closer is nothing new – and while I myself won’t be racing to see it again when it’s released in theaters – I do recommend it for fans and parents.
Vampire Academy has done its homework by emulating previous graduating classes like Harry Potter, Twilight, MTV’s "Teen Wolf," The Craft, The Covenant, et al. But extra credit goes to its writer, director, and cast. Writer Daniel Waters is known for Heathers, director Mark Waters did Mean Girls, and lead actresses Zoey Deutch and Lucy Fry are as feisty as they are feminine. There are no whiny wizards or sparkly vampires here! It’s far above the recent spate of its ilk, including The Mortal Instruments, Beautiful Creatures, and Divergent.
Best of all are the players – Zoey Deutch (daughter of actress Lea Thompson and the director of Pretty in Pink, Howard Deutch) as Rose was my favorite. She’s got star quality, yet comes across as down-to-earth and likable, able to win you over even as she’s squinting through crazy contact lenses and sprouting cutting canines. Adult cast members include Olga Kurylenko, Gabriel Byrne, and Joely Richardson; they shine without stealing the spotlight from their young costars.
There are a few missteps – such as instantly-dating dialogue about social media, the tired nerd-to-knockout makeover, and super-bad CGI wolves – but those are few and far between. The soundtrack is poppy (Katie Perry, Goldfrapp, Sky Ferreira), and the schoolgirl uniforms are plucky (by two-time Academy Award Nominee Ruth Myers) – it sounds and looks good.
According to the fandom, Vampire Academy is a faithful adaptation of the books. It is also a fun timewaster for horror hounds in need of a little levity. Either way, check it out.
3 out of 5
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