Vampire Academy (2014) – Review

Any vampire movie that wants to be taken seriously should not have the word ‘suck’ in its tagline. Fact. It’s highly likely that this sends out entirely the wrong message to its audience. Thankfully however, Vampire Academy does not aspire to reach the lofty artistic and cinematic heights of even, let’s say, Twilight, as an example. This is a fully up-to date version of the vampire story, taking place today, with mostly fist-clenchingly nauseating American preppies as the featured protaganists.

Suffice to say that for the purposes of this screenplay, adapted from the novel by Richelle Mead, there are good vampires and bad vampires. The good vampires, well seemingly the royal ones at least, have bodyguards to protect them from the bad ones. Here, we are going to focus on the relationship between one of the good vampires and her best friend, who also happens to be her bodyguard (and her lunch, when she’s feeling peckish). After escaping the Academy, Lissa (Lucy Fry) and her bodyguard in training Rose (Zoey Deutch) are off the grid, but not for long. Within a year in the outside world, they are unceremoniously hauled back to the Academy by top dog bodyguard, the dangerous and always brooding Dmitri (Kozlovsky).

Now I would be the very first to admit that this is not a movie that I would have ever placed on my normal ‘must-see’ list of things to do. The only reason my interest was piqued was my liking for Modern Family’s Sarah Hyland who, as it turns out, plays much more of a bit part than I was hoping for. Readers of this blog will already know that I am not an advocate of modern day vampire tales in general. In fact, I’m not really too keen on the genre at all, and tend to draw the line at anything created on the subject after Hammer Horror went belly up a couple of decades ago. With that in mind, it would have to be something very speical indeed to convince me that this genre has any kind of value or worth. I’ve never liked vampire stories, I’ve never been interested or moved by them. I don’t find vampires fascinating, passionate, romantic or erotic.

The reason I mention what may seem blatantly obvious is whilst I do not see the value here, it doesn’t mean there isn’t any. I wouldn’t be much of a reviewer if I couldn’t put myself in the shoes of the person that this project is hoping to reach. And, if I’m honest, I’m not really sure who that is. Certainly, there are elements that would draw in a certain type of viewer, but Mark Waters fans will probably be left feeling a little short changed by the experience offered, due to a script that doesn’t really deserve to be uttered out loud.

There are few outstanding performances here, save really for Zoey Deutch who we can tell is doing her very best in spite of the material she is wokring with, and an impressive final act turn by Gabriel Byrne, but on the whole the delivery of the sub-standard script is all that it really deserves. Aimed firmly at a probably younger, less sophisticated audience than Twilight would enjoy, Vampire Academy is something of a wannabe in the genre that despite enjoying some notable players, fails to ever really get out of first gear.



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