The giddy vampire vixens showcased in director Mark Waters’s horror fantasy ‘Vampire Academy’ do not seem to have any considerable choppers while sinking their fangs into this tepid teen tart suspense piece. The impish promotional tagline for the film’s motto is ‘they suck at school’ which devilishly registers. Unfortunately, ‘Vampire Academy’ sucks beyond its bloody walls of academia as well. Shamelessly, Waters dumps almost every familiar theme and pop cultural reference into this supernatural turkey, yet nothing registers with these cut-throat cuties or their penchant for tasty necks. Unimaginative, recycled and hopelessly convoluted, ‘Vampire Academy’ has all the inspired tension and titillation of an irritable mosquito bite.
The brotherly collaboration of the Waters connection (Mark as the aforementioned director and Daniel as the screenwriter) is somewhat questionable because they have produced decent fare in the past that begs to wonder why they would sign on the dotted line for this sassy sampling of suck-and-pluck cinema. Mark W. (responsible for the cunning cult favorite ‘Mean Girls’ although guilty of committing an eyesore felony with forgettable ditties such as ‘Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past’) and Daniel W. (who penned the wickedly witty and cynical ‘The Heathers’ years ago) do have the knack for concocting big screen blistering babes that drolly know how to roll with the punches. So it makes it all the more frustrating that ‘Vampire Academy’ does not contain the same distinctive sense of deviant divas causing others to lick their irreverent wounds. Basically, ‘Vampire Academy’ trots through its monotonous motions as an off-beat teen dramedy that struggles to establish its stillborn outlandishness.
‘Vampire Academy’ is among the latest brand of titillating teenybopper tales trying desperately to tap into the ‘Twilight’ phenomenon but this futile attempt may go unnoticed much like the wasteful impact of such recent stinkers as ‘The Host’, ‘The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones’ and ‘I Am Number Four’. Clearly, ‘Vampire Academy’ wants to emulate the box office bounciness it patterns itself after such random influences of the Waters’ own ‘Mean Girls’ and ‘The Heathers’, the Harry Potter franchise, ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’ and, oddly enough, even a dosage of CBS-TV’s loosely flippant sitcom ‘2 Broke Girls’. Sure, ‘Vampire Academy’ will probably receive its share of interest from the teen scene crowd but, for the most part, it will get lost in the shuffle among the many approaching knock-offs that are waiting in the wings to make their presence known as well.
This girly teen-centric supernatural comedy is adapted from Richelle Mead’s popular young adult book series. The hipness behind the pseudo shocking shenanigans of ‘Vampire Academy’ rests on the shoulders of young beauty bloodsucker buddies Rose Hathaway (Zoey Deutch) and Lissa Dragomir (Lucy Fry). Rose’s backstory is that she is a half-human/half-vampire referred to as a Dhampir. Rose’s mission is to protect the hide of her gal pal, Lissa, who possesses some unique healing powers of her own. As a matter of fact, Lissa is privileged to have some Moroi royalty in her background and needs her supply of blood to thrive whereas the necessity of being blood-thirsty is not in Rose’s profiled makeup. Importantly, Moroi vampires gleefully tolerate humans and have a friendly disposition and only wish to exist in calming waters.
Anyway, protocol dictates that half-breed Dhampir Rose must guard the peaceful and pleasing Moroi Lissa from another vampire race known as the Strigoi, a rough and ruffled blood-loving bunch that have ruthless tendencies and smell every opportunity for the taste of violent mayhem. When the tumultuous clashing at St. Vladimir’s (that’s ‘Vampire Academy’ to the rest of us) gets out of hand, both Rose and Lissa must split the scene to avoid the evil-minded motivations of the riff raffish Strigoi faction. However, the periled pair are forced to return to the scene of the crime and face their detractors amid the potential danger. Now outcasts, Rose and Lissa must contend with the ghoulish foolishness that persists.
Naturally, Vampire Academy would not be complete in its painful ridiculousness without its standby assortment of riddled cliches. To appease the adolescent skirts watching, the movie throws in a buff boytoy bodyguard in Dimitri (Danila Kozlovski) for Rose’s heart to flutter as she dishes out what amounts to an array of humorless barbs and off-the-cuff puns. Predictably, we are introduced to the typical prototypes that one would expect to come across in a monstrous girls boarding school…a ‘Facts Of Life’ bloodbath if you will. For instance, there is the resident bespectacled geeky gal (as played by Sarah Hyland from the multiple Emmy-winning ABC-TV sitcom ‘Modern Family’). Oh yeah…add the token inclusion of veteran ‘oldsters’ such as Gabriel Byrne, Joely Richardson and Olga Kurylenko to justify some so-called ‘grown-up’ presence. Also, plug in the string of strained and stale jokes and the tedious mythology of the Dhampir/Moroi/Strigoi histrionics and you come away with a flaccid farce as fresh and original as Dracula’s birth certificate.
The young women in the disjointed ‘Vampire Academy’ are out for blood but the rest of us will be itching for the next available transfusion after witnessing this dismissive fanged fable.
Vampire Academy (2014)
STARRING: Zoey Deutch, Lucy Fry, Olga Kurylenko, Sarah Hyland, Gabriel Byrne, Joely Richardson, Dominic Sherwood, Sami Gayle, Cameron Monaghan, Ashley Charles, Claire Foy and Danila Kozlovsk
DIRECTED BY: Mark Waters
SCREENPLAY BY: Daniel Waters
MPAA RATING: PG-13
RUNNING TIME: 98 mins.
DISTRIBUTED BY: The Weinstein Co.
CRITIC’S RATING: * 1/2 stars (out of 4 stars)