Step one: forget the fact that the movie is named Vampire Academy. Step two: turn off your brain and be entertained.
While not a groundbreaking film by any means, Vampire Academy-the newest supernatural teen drama to hit theaters-is surprisingly solid. Although the last thing the world needed was yet another vampire movie, this one portrays a strong and funny main character, unlike the reed in the wind that is Bella Swan from Twilight. Vampire Academy has a Hogwarts-like atmosphere with a modern touch. The film is directed by Mark Waters, the director of Mean Girls andFreaky Friday-as far as high school dramas go, the man knows what he’s doing.
The story follows the lives of best friends Rose Hathaway (Zoey Deutch) and Lissa Dragomir (Lucy Fry), both students of St. Vladimir’s Academy. This supernatural boarding school is home to two types of students: the Moroi, like Lissa, who are peaceful and mortal vampires with extraordinary abilities-and the Dhampir, like Rose, half human and half vampire, whose destiny is to protect the Moroi from a more dangerous species, the immortal and ruthless Strigoi vampires. As Rose trains to be her best friend’s guardian and protector, things start escalating when Lissa begins receiving some anonymous death threats. Meanwhile, Rose starts developing feelings for her mysterious Russian trainer and Lissa starts getting close to an odd yet attractive outcast at school. As these events develop, the film continues into a steady mix of high school drama and life-threatening tension among supernatural races.
This is not a particularly meaningful film, nor does it require much brainpower to enjoy it. It has a very particular target audience, and should be taken for what it is. With that in mind, the story was fast-paced, the actors did a good job, and the humor was self-referential and surprisingly on point. It was refreshing to see that the main character was not the “chosen one,” or the center of attention, or the underdog, or the target of affection of any mysterious creature. She was a cool, confident girl who had no problem being the sidekick. Watching the story unfold from the perspective of a character who normally would have been the supporting role was unusual and fun, and for that matter, quite a relief.
This movie had all the elements of a cheesy, face-palming cliche, but in spite of its low-minded appeal, Vampire Academy accomplished its goals with impressive quality. Unlike its precedents, Vampire Academy didn’t focus on romantic conquests. Of course, as a teen movie, the hormones were omnipresent and the drama ubiquitous. But who doesn’t love seeing a bunch of attractive teenagers bicker at each other? And this one comes with the whole vampires-about-to-kill-each-other bonus. Complete with well-chosen actors to deliver its sarcastic lines, the movie knows how to make fun of itself. It knows that it’s a vampire movie in the age of vampire movies, and that is why it works.
From a cinematic position, Vampire Academy doesn’t really do too much. It’s a mistake to try to analyze it from a critical standpoint. If taken for exactly what it is, however-a piece of pure, insubstantial entertainment-the movie is impressively enjoyable. The story is easy to follow, flows at an appropriate pace, and has very few cringe-worthy lines-which, for a vampire movie, is saying a lot. Waters has built his career on lighthearted comedies, and this is a very decent addition to his body of work. The film is not quite as quotable as Mean Girls, but then again, is there such a thing? Overall,Vampire Academy is worth a trip for those wanting to get away from the real world for a couple of hours. As far as guilty pleasures go, this is on the low end of the guilt spectrum, so feel free to invite friends-I guarantee they will enjoy it just as much as you will.