Vampire Academy gets a passing grade
Starring Zoey Deutch and Lucy Fry. Rated PG. Now playing
Rose and Lissa are teenagers and best friends. Rose will go to any length to help Lissa, while Lissa enlivens Rose's sarcastic disposition with glamour and companionship. Both of them struggle to fit in at St. Vladimir's Academy, a high school which is rife with bullies, an exceptionally sour headmistress, and vampires.
They are okay with the vampire aspect.
When a film is written by Dan Waters (Heathers) and directed by his brother Mark Waters (Mean Girls), you'd expect it to be an expert satire of teen mores. Vampire Academy does remind us of the vicissitudes of adolescence, literally presenting the bad blood between high school rivals. Meanwhile, even besties like Rose (Zoey Deutch) and Lissa (Lucy Fry) can have a falling out over a cute boy.
Unfortunately, the movie is overwhelmed with exposition. An adaptation of the Young Adult series by Richelle Mead, the Vampire Academy devotes most of its runtime to explaining the sociopolitical background of its hemoglobin-swilling denizens.
Seems that the gorgeous and blonde Lissa is a princess of the Moroi (benign mortal vampires); snarky Rose is from the Dhampir (half-vamps that serve the elite); and they fear the Strigoi (classic Nosferatu-type bloodsuckers). The plot of the movie revolves around an attempted coup in the Moroi succession. This leads to a certain amount of butt-kicking from Rose and her mentor/crush Dimitri (Danila Kozlovsky) but it's not exactly Iron Monkey 2.
It's also hard to care about the story when the basic dynamic of the movie is far more interesting. What exactly is going on with Rose and Lissa? Are they actually friends (they have nothing in common), or is it a supernaturally determined (and pretty damn kinky) master-slave compulsion? Is that what love is?
While it feels like the movie is throwing away opportunities, there are still some funny observations. The world may not need another teen vampire series, but at least this one explains how authors of Twilight fan fiction can be eaten.