Remember how, in the olden days, to be a decent vampire, all the likes of Bela Lugosi, Christopher Lee and the fabulous Klaus Kinski needed were a pair of pointy fangs, a coffin to sleep in and an (optional) satin-lined cape?
Not any more. In Vampire Academy Vampires now are young spunks who complement their blood-sucking nocturnal activities with martial arts and magic.
With rare exceptions (like that little Swedish girl in Let The Right One In) they are also crushing bores.
This indescribably lousy movie introduces a character to the genre of which I was blissfully ignorant – Rose (Zoey Deutch) is a Dhampir, which is to say her role is to be a minder to a fully-fledged vampire, in this case golden-haired Lissa (Lucy Fry), who is a princess of one of twelve royal families.
The opening has the girls survive a head-on road accident that kills Lissa’s parents.
We then embark on a dog’s breakfast of a script that lurches from dream sequence to flashback to corny high-school romance to conspiracy to murder (there are ‘good’ and ‘bad’ vampires, another concept alien to traditionalists)… and somebody throttles Lissa’s moggy.
It’s all set at a Hogwarts-type school with the usual factions of gorgeous teens teasing and bullying and falling in love.
One of them looks like she’s being set up to be the Malfoy of the group, but at about the halfway point I started to think about that night’s return of the NRL to the TV and I became a glazed-eyed passenger for the duration.
Through it all I noticed that Gabriel Byrne (a wonderful actor who must be on his uppers to have allowed himself to be seen in this) was shuffling around as a sort of éminence grise of the undead, with baggy jowls and Doctor Who scarves.
And there was another fellow, long-haired and smouldering, with an eastern European accent, who reminded me of Ilie Năstase, while Joely Richardson is suitably cast as Queen Tatiana.
If you like a good vampire flick, don’t bother.
~ John Campbell