By Glenn Dunks
July 1, 2014
Rarely have I felt such disconnect between material and the actors tasked with performing it as I did with Mark Waters’ Vampire Academy. A little bit Mean Girls (which Waters directed) and a whole lot Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but sadly nowhere near as good as either, this weak teen comedy is a hopeless attempt at building a comic-horror franchise for a new generation. And while there is certainly potential in the story adapted from Richelle Mead’s series of novels, Vampire Diaries suffers from unconvincing actors delivering inept exposition-heavy dialogue alongside appallingly cheap visual effects that make the finished film look like little more than an episode of Supernatural.
Lissa Dragomir (Lucy Fry) is the last of her royal bloodline after her parents were killed in a car accident. Now a social outcast alongside her vampire guardian and best friend Rose (Zoey Deutch), the two must attempt to uncover who is behind a series of exceedingly gruesome pranks that escalate into a threat on both of their lives.
Superficially reminding of screenwriter Daniel Waters’ own revolutionary screenplay for Heathers, Vampire Academy lacks genuine wit and intelligence. Its characters talk and act like they are far older than their ages suggest but without the generational smarts that made Sarah Michelle Gellar on Buffy such a strong character. By the time Deutch screams “Are you not entertained,” it has become far too impossible to imagine a world where such pop culture cues are in their teenage vernacular. They don’t even have televisions and aren’t allowed out of school grounds, which makes me wonder how this young woman ever saw Gladiator.
It is frustrating inconsistencies such as these that make Vampire Academy so disappointing. The two Waters appear busier explaining their vamp-universe’s grand mythology rather than exploring the lives of teenagers in any honest way. A seemingly last-minute feminist twist notwithstanding, the filmmakers likely intended on delving deeper in sequels that will never come. This is a misjudged, mishandled affair from start to finish, including its sequel-baiting stinger that will remain a sad testament to the movie’s financial success that was never to be.
Vampire Academy will be available from Quickflix on July 3, 2014.