The Weinstein Company, 2014
Directed by Mark Waters
Screenplay by Daniel Waters, based on the book by Richelle Mead
Filming completed in July, 2013 in London
Co-starring Lucy Fry (Lissa), Zoey Deutch (Rose), Danila Kozlovsky (Dimitri), Dominic Sherwood (Christian), Sarah Hyland (Natalie), Olga Kurylenko (Headmistress Kirova), and Joely Richardson (Queen Tatiana)
Blood is family. Blood is pain. And blood is death.
They Suck at School
Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir: half human/vampire, guardians of the Moroi, peaceful, mortal vampires living discretely within our world. Her legacy is to protect the Moroi from bloodthirsty, immortal Vampires, the Strigoi. This is her story. –The Weinstein Company
Based on author Richelle Mead’s worldwide bestselling series, VAMPIRE ACADEMY tells the legend of Rose Hathaway (Zoey Deutch) and Lissa Dragomir (Lucy Fry), two 17-year-old girls who attend a hidden boarding school for Moroi (mortal, peaceful Vampires) and Dhampirs (half-vampire/half-human guardians). Rose, a rebellious Guardian-in-training and her best friend, Lissa – a royal vampire Princess – have been on the run when they are captured and returned to St.Vladamirs Academy, the very place where they believe their lives may be in most jeopardy. Thrust back into the perils of Moroi Society and high school, Lissa struggles to reclaim her status while Rose trains with her mentor and love-interest, Dimitri (Danila Kozlovsky), to guarantee her place as Lissa’s guardian. Rose will sacrifice everything to protect Lissa from those who intend to exploit her from within the Academy walls and the Strigoi (immortal, evil vampires) who hunt her kind from outside its sanctuary.–Amazon synopsis for the DVD
Rose: On the subject of non-declarers, I want to know why, when I brought up Miss Karp’s name yesterday, you all acted like I put a porcupine in the hot tub!
Victor: Karp has always been a few corpuscles shy of a full artery. She didn’t have a Dhampir to look after her.
Victor: I’m on your side, Rose, but we live in a world where the boogeymen are real.
Victor (to Rose): I know you have your life’s mission to protect Lissa, but would you now and again look out for my Natalie? She’s a goofball, but I do cherish her.
Lissa: Why are you doing this?
Victor: The simple truth is: I need you to heal me.
Lissa: You are my family’s most cherished friend. Why didn’t you just ask me?
Victor: How touching. Genuinely, my darling, but a chronic disease like my Sandovski’s needs continual healings. Then there is the other matter.
Lissa: The physical toll on me.
Victor: Yes. Spirit users take their power from their own essence. To heal another requires giving a part of oneself and it can destroy one over time.
Lissa: You want me to give up my life for yours.
Victor: Basically. But you see, my dear, I am much more important than you.
Victor: HEAL ME! Ah, Lissa. Heal me.
Dimitri: You are worse than the Strigoi.
Victor: You know what I like most about the Psi Hounds? They’re wonderful at tracking. They’re even better at killing. ATTACK!
Rose: You look good, Vic, which is ironic, considering it means more time rotting in jail.
Victor: Don’t take this the wrong way, Rose, but I probably should have killed you.
Rose: There’s a compliment in there somewhere.
Vampire Academy doesn’t cut it
But, as someone points out, there’s more than bullying to worry about, something to do with the school namesake long ago battling his dark side to achieve salvation, and so forth. The real issues, though, include such adolescent anxieties as peer pressure, crushes on teachers, homoerotic sexual attraction, self-destructiveness (there is a blatant cutting allusion), and, of course, shopping. Despite such attractions as Gabriel Byrne as a vampire with a skin disease and a décor that combines Hogwarts with “Suspiria,” the only lesson learned here is that Hollywood needs fresh blood.
But the material is mostly wan in the extreme. Set at a Gothic boarding school called St. Vladimir’s, Vampire Academy is basically Twilight meets Harry Potter, with a tone that looks over its shoulder to the linked high-school bitch-kitsch pedigrees of its screenwriter, Daniel Waters (Heathers), and director, Mark Waters (Mean Girls), who are brothers. The movie is all random cutting remarks, hand-to-hand fight scenes that seem particularly pointless in a film where everyone is supernatural, and a story that barely pretends to matter. If you’re not at the bull’s-eye center of the target audience, a movie like this one can suck the life out of you.
Fans of the books might enjoy seeing their world brought to life, but most everyone else will likely leave feeling as if they’ve just completed a seminar on vampire lore, and they’re likely to fail any pop quiz that follows.
behind the scenes
Gabriel Byrne on set with Sarah Hyland, who plays his daughter, Natalie
protecting Victor’s Sandovski’s Syndrome make-up between takes
Narrated by Gabriel Byrne!
Region 1, NTSC, Widescreen
Additional features include: Alternate Opening, Deleted Scenes, and a conversation with author Richelle Mead
Artists include: Katy Perry, Iggy Azalea, Sky Ferreira, Natalia Kills, and Au Revoir Simone
In Your Grave [3:11]
Red Lips [3:50]
Nice and Slow [3:50]
Boys Don’t Cry [3:36]
Sinful Nature [3:30]
Think About It [3:05]
Bela Lugosi’s Dead [3:50]
Unlike the critics, fans tended to like Vampire Academy. Well, some of them did, anyway.
At Rotten Tomatoes, almost 30,000 user reviews gave the film a score of 57%–praise indeed when compared to the 11% rating from the professional writers. The fan scores range from No Stars to 5 Stars. Here is one of the best–full of snark and wonder:
February 10, 2014
star star star star star
Sometimes a movie is so terrible it transcends the worst rating possible, and instead receives a full 5 star review. Vampire Academy is that movie. There is nothing redeeming about this film, but every piece of terrible film-making works together to create a perfect storm of awesome terribleness. I don’t know if director Mark Waters and his big brother, who provided the script, intended this movie to be a parody of everything wrong with the current, vampire-obsessed culture, while at the same time being a film that is the worst example of the culture, but that’s exactly what this is.
Vampire Academy wants to be really smart, snarky, and witty, unfortunately it’s not that smart. However, you’ve never seen self-aware teenagers as hilariously and ridiculously stupid as you have here. Rose, the protagonist of this story, spouts so much sophomoric dialogue that you can’t even begin to believe this is something a teenager would say. The screenwriter doesn’t even seem to think the dialogue is that catchy, because he forces the characters to repeat key lines over and over again, hoping it will catch on.
But the dialogue isn’t the best/worst part, what really fails/succeeds here is the over-complicated universe, which I guess is credited to the source material. Why are there so many classes of vampires? Why are there so many details to this world that don’t amount to anything? The world building is so stupid, yet complete, that you have to fall in love with what’s going on.
I will give the cast credit here, they are completely sold out to making this movie work, and they totally do. If you want to see a bunch of talented actors, and some really terrible ones, give themselves completely to one of the most ridiculous dialogue and plot ever put to paper, see this movie! It was so fun to watch these words actually come out of people’s mouths.
The action is incomprehensible. I never know what’s going on in any action sequence, and Waters seems incapable of crafting an action sequence that really works. As incomprehensible as the action is, most of the character motivations are as well. I never knew why almost anyone was doing what they were doing, and when it was explained, it made even less sense.
I haven’t even scratched the surface of how terrible and awesome this film is. You have to see it for yourself to believe it.
Fan Art by Sarah R
Richelle Mead’s popular and very successful Vampire Academy book series is comprised of six titles. The film Vampire Academy is based on the first book in the series.
Ms. Mead is stays well-connected to her fanbase. You can read her blog, Even Redheads Get the Blues, to find out more about her activities and her plans for future books.
Thanks to Sarah R for sharing her fan art!