Making the Grades
One could only hope the obsession with vampires is coming to an end—but apparently not yet. Instead, the Vampire Academy gives us a whole new take on the bloodsuckers and the class system among the undead.
At the top of the caste are the Moroi, the bluebloods of this world. Unlike your typical vampires, these royals have a limited lifespan and eventually die. Their bite isn’t deadly so they feed on willing donors, often in a cafeteria-like setting where the givers get a seemingly erotic pleasure from being a feedbag. With enough good sunscreen or an umbrella, the Moroi can even tolerate the sunlight and, fortunately, indoor mall lighting.
On the opposite end of the scale are the Strigoi, bloodthirsty, savage, immortal vampires that have gone to the dark side. They can’t abide the sun, attack to kill and can only be done in with a silver dagger.
Between these two are the Dhampir—half human/half vampire guardians assigned to protect the Moroi from the Strigoi. Rose Hathaway (Zoey Deutch) is one of these. Her job is to safeguard Princess Vasilisa Dragomir (Lucy Fry), the last remaining royal in her family line.
If ever a film tried to encapsulate every teen stereotype, this would be it. Vasilisa is the slight, blonde, beautiful princess who everyone fawns over. Rose is dark-haired, curvaceous and a no-holds barred fighter who takes her protective role very seriously. High school at St. Vampire Academy feels like something straight out of Mean Girls with bullying, catfights and romantic angst. But the script takes it even further with suggestions of a lesbian relationship, attempts to lose one’s virginity and a flirtation between a teacher and student that gets down to the characters’ black underwear.
The movie delves into even more dangerous depictions when it shows characters slitting their wrists and using their own blood to write threats on the wall. Cutting is also a way one of the characters deals with the emotional pain she is experiencing. Others use their special “powers” to force people to do things against their will, or to inflict harm or damage. Frequent, often graphic hand-to-hand fighting and weapons use, along with the bloody carcasses of animals, are also part of the violent depictions.
In an attempt to be funny, the script uses flippant, silly dialogue and takes a few lowball jabs at Twilight. As much as I dislike that franchise, these slights feel cheap considering Bella and Edward paved the way for teenaged vampires to come out of the shadows and onto the big screen. Like Twilight, Vampire Academy is based on a book series—this one by Richelle Mead. But if Twilight had it’s moments of sexuality that made parents or teens uncomfortable, expect even more in this plot. The movie includes numerous sexually crude comments, some of which have a violent tenor to them.
Vampire Academy tries too hard to be both a comedy and a drama with disastrous results. And the end of the film feels more like a commercial break than a conclusion, with a blatant “place sequel here” scene. So while it’s true that some of these vampires might be more sophisticated than your average garden variety bloodsucker, it will take a lot more that a pint of blood to resuscitate this subpar screenplay.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Vampire Academy.
Why would the director use a place like Montana as a setting for this film? Why do vampire movies often take place in rural locations rather than big cities?
Why does Vasilisa worry so much about finding her special power? Is high school a good time to explore many different interests and activities?
How does this movie change the “rules” about vampires?