"Vampire Academy" is such a bad movie that this review is going to be a special challenge for me as an author, because I need to explain how bad it is. You knew it was bad just by reading the title, but you're still not prepared for how unholy this production is. I've seen some bad movies this year already but compared to "Vampire's Academy", things like "Devil's Due" were a joy. I'd watch "Devil's Due" seven times as my teeth were torn out by Nazi doctors with knives for fingers than watch "Vampire Academy" ever again. I spent this whole movie with waves of agony spreading down my whole body, as my hairs stood on-end, my eyes teared, and my mouth hung wide open while I muttered under my breath over and over "what the fuck? what the fuck?" Usually when a movie is bad, its bad in typical and predictable ways: lazy screenwriting, bad acting, poor special effects, a simple lack of care. But "Vampire Academy" is the kind of bad that leaves me in awe. It does everything wrong, but then goes the extra mile to be completely unwatchable and hatefully stupid at every turn.
As you would expect, "Vampire Academy" has all the standard elements of cookie-cutter teen fantasy garbage. It takes place in a weirdly convoluted and overly complicated mythology featuring three classes of vampire, five schools of magic, and an entire secret undead society ruled by twelve noble houses with an elected monarchy, all somehow centered on a high school. Naturally at the core of this universe is our protagonists, this time two girls with a special destiny that everybody in this series must obsess over. But it manages to be worse than most teen fantasy novels, as most of this mythology is simply window dressing to an empty and insultingly bad storyline about jealous girls being bitches, boys, shopping, and other high school nonsense.
If you want to see a movie where supernatural beings spend most of their time plotting to be popular at high school and rotating disposable boyfriends, go see "Vampire Academy". If that doesn't sound like a movie you want to see, welcome to being every single person on the planet. Nobody but the stupidest and most selfish brat of a teenager could enjoy this movie, and we should consider purging that population if they keep unleashing filth like this upon the planet.
Actually managing to keep track of all the many elements of "Vampire Academy"'s universe is pretty much pointless. Every class of vampire has a silly Russian-sounding name, but basically all you need to know is that one class knows kung-fu, one knows magic, and the other one is evil. Even then, as previously mentioned, the fantasy elements are meaningless since most of the movie focuses around the main characters suffering from a ridiculously silly bully campaign, and its not until maybe forty minutes left that anybody does anything truly villainous. In fact, its hard to say if "Vampire Academy" has no plot at all, or one so hopelessly convoluted and preposterous that its impossible to follow. Add in about six hundred characters, most of whom are forgotten entirely and add nothing to anything, and you have a mess of a movie.
"Take this, dear, and you'll forget this movie ever happened."
Most of population of St. Vladamir's Academy**, as Vampire Academy is properly known, are relative unknowns or former Disney Channel stars looking for a film career and about to learn a very important life lesson about handling disappointment. There are a few real actors floating around as well: Olga Kurylenko (above) gives a one-note performance as the Academy mistress in a role written without any thought, Gabriel Bryne is an elderly vampire noble with a lung condition of some kind, and Joely Richardson was too embarrassed to appear in the film more than twice as the vampire queen. Gabriel Bryne isn't exactly an A-list star, but he's a respected actor, and you'd think he'd have more self-respect than appearing in this film. I get the sense that Hollywood is a place where actors do not get very much choice as to what projects they'll appear in: be you Michael Sheen, Emma Thompson, Jeremy Irons, or Gary Oldman, eventually you're going to have to play in some awful teen fantasy piece of disposable crap. I assume if you refuse to be in a Stephenie Meyer movie or one of its descendants, you will be murdered and used for spare parts to engineer the next Disney Channel star, that's really the only explanation.
Of the younger cast, they're generally all awful. The main lead, Zoey Deutch manages to get through the movie by doing an Ellen Page impression and showing an imperial ton of perfectly-formed cleavage. Her entire role in this movie is a constant stream of a bad screenwriter's idea of how teenage girls talk, which is meant to be "funny" but is in fact so bad that you will wonder if you will ever laugh again. At some point though, the movie seemed to give me Stockholm Syndrome or maybe Deutch's unbelievably perfect tits hypnotized me, because I'm left thinking that she might possibly be a good actress in a project that isn't... this. Lucy Fry, the other lead actress, is not nearly so lucky, she's simply awful. Sarah Hyland, as the girls' annoying perky friend, actually manages to be a brief bright spot in the entire film, but again, it was only because I could imagine her in a better movie than this. Other highlights include a moody kid trying and failing to be Robert Pattinson, a red-haired guy with no personality to speak of at all, and a dude who looked kinda like Patrick Swayze in the late 80s if you squinted exactly right.
That's how desperate I was to find anything at all to enjoy in "Vampire Academy", I had to squint my eyes and pretend I was watching "Road House". Honestly, this guy didn't look anything like Patrick Swayze, but his hair kinda matched, and I had to find SOMETHING in this just abominably bad movie to enjoy. Between the clucking of these teenagers and their CW network-dialog, this was a nightmare the likes of which rarely reach this mortal plane. I had to find a silver lining, the only other option was suicide.
Naturally the lead girls are obsessed over by every person in school including the adults, even their enemies have nothing better to do but fuck two guys at once in weird vampire orgies to manipulate them to play pranks on the heroes. Its classic adolescent ego-mania, being fed by a badly-written universe. Lucy Fry's character is the heir to St. Vladimir's Rurikid throne, a vampire wizard of unlimited power, and has a psychic bond with Zoey Deutch's character, who is also the greatest kung-fu-class vampire ever, apparently.
I haven't even mentioned the names of these characters yet, because I've been saving them. Vampire princess is named "Lissa Dragomir". Ouch. That's almost as bad as "Katniss Everdeen". Zoey Deutch's name is the more normal "Rose Hathaway".
Not that I suppose it matters, but most of the vampire universe is not exactly well-crafted. Worse its not even directed well or given any kind of pacing. Ten minutes of voice-over exposition is required to get us to the point where the filmmakers think we will be able to follow the plot. Honestly, even with constant exposition in nearly every scene afterwards, good fucking luck trying to understanding this movie.
I'm still confused by more issues than I can even name: We're told that these vampires "do not sparkle" in one of many references to Twilight, but only some are hurt by sunlight, I think. Some drink blood, but some don't. Biting on the neck is equivalent to sex, but vampires also apparently have normal human sex. Our two leads suck each other's blood early on in the film, but are not in romantic love, I think. There's a big deal about declaring your magical class, but its never explained what that means or why it matters. The leads have a psychic bond, which is not consider unusual, but no other characters have anything like it. Rose is called a "Dark Kiss", but its never explain what that means. The vampires have human blood slaves in the basement who are fed upon, apparently willingly because they're huge Twilight fans. With that one element, you can almost see a clever satire bleeding through the desolate wasteland that is this script, but its entirely ignored to be more generic.
All of this is of course kept secret from our regular human society, though its never explained why. Twilight had secret vampires, Harry Potter had secret wizards, so I guess "Vampire Academy" needs secret worlds too. Yet Rose is only character who ever references human society.
"Look pretty, girls, we may never be able to work again after this."
What's insane is that after hours and hours of anemic, mind-bogglingly awful conversations and some of the most horrific dialog I've ever come across in all my travels, suddenly "Vampire Academy" actually manages to become almost watchable and interesting in the final climax. The final twist as to who the villain is, especially the final foe, is set-up slowly, if not even brilliantly, as you realize this character has been manipulating the heroes throughout the whole movie. Every discovery they make has been led to by this character, very subtly. I called the twist coming, and honestly thought this movie would be too stupid to consider that plotline as a possibility, but then it surprised me by actually doing it. Then the Patrick Swayze guy manages to have a brief but fantastically choreographed fight scene, as if the Waters Brothers decided to become real filmmakers once again for just one scene. It isn't enough to make this movie recommendable, everything that came before was torturous nonsense what felt like seven eternities through Buddhist Hell, but at least its probably enough to keep "Vampire Academy" from being the Worst Movie of 2014.
However, there's no way this will not be one of the worst. "Vampire Academy" makes all the same mistakes of previous young adult stinkers like "The Mortal Instruments", but somehow commits the same sins with what feels like true hatred towards its audience. This film was unwatchable agony. Its bottled pain, delivered right to your central nervous system. After this nightmare, I do not want to watch a teen fantasy movie ever again. Hell, I don't want to watch a movie with vampires ever again. Let's go further: I don't want to watch a movie with people in it again. I hope the next movie I see stars reptiles.
* Danny also, shockingly, wrote one of my favorite movies of all time, "Batman Returns". You know how much I love "Batman Returns"? Imagine an emotion opposite of that, and you have how I feel about "Vampire Academy".
** I feel bad for the real St. Vladimir, also known as Vladimir the Great, the tenth century Rurikid ruler of the Kievan Rus' (modern Russia and Ukraine) who converted himself and his kingdom to Christianity. This movie claims he was a Spirit elemental Vampire who could bring back the dead and founded a high school in... North America? St. Vladimir's Academy's location is never well-explained.