‘Vampire Academy’ movie review: A lazy, bloody tale

Correction: An earlier version of this review misspelled the race of evil vampires. They are called Strigoi. This version has been corrected.

Vampires are notoriously difficult to kill. But somebody should have killed “Vampire Academy,” yet another movie based on a young adult novel about bloodsuckers. The only thing that distinguishes this teen-magnet wannabe from its predecessors is how lazily it appears to have been slapped together.

Given its best-selling source material (Richelle Mead’s 2007 book) and the writer-director duo behind it, the movie should have been better. Brothers Daniel and Mark Waters gave us the 1988 cult classic “Heathers,” with its contagiously quotable lines — “What’s your damage?” — but you won’t find anything so memorable here.

Zoey Deutch plays Rose, a Dhampir, whose race is dedicated to protecting a benevolent form of vampires known as Moroi. (How benevolent are they? People line up to donate blood to them.) Rose has appointed herself the guardian of her best friend, Lissa Dragomir (Lucy Fry), an heir to the throne of . . . well, it’s not clear exactly what. But she’s definitely a princess of something. Rose’s job is to make sure no evil vampires, or Strigoi, attack Lissa.

The pair goes to a Montana boarding school called St. Vladimir’s, which is like Hogwarts except with more sex. While Lissa is learning about magic, Rose spends time with her tutor Dimitri (Danila Kozlovsky), another Dhampir, learning how to fight and kill Strigoi, who can be dispatched only with a silver stake to the heart.

The plot is too convoluted to sum up here, but suffice it to say that someone begins terrorizing Lissa, and Rose is determined to get to the bottom of it — when she’s not busy flirting with the much older Dimitri.

It may have worked as a book, but the sheer amount of explanatory dialogue is the most distracting part of the movie. (The computer-generated special effects and plot holes are a close second and third.) The movie’s first 10 minutes sound like two people reading a prologue as Lissa and Rose — two best friends who share a clairvoyant connection — recount their escapades.

Rose is supposed to be a spunky 17-year-old always ready with a witty retort, but she just comes off as annoying. Her rebellious nature also seems to contradict her willingness to accept a life of servitude to vampires.

But that’s a tiny quibble compared with some of the movie’s larger problems. The book “Vampire Academy” is the first in a series of six. We can only hope that doesn’t mean there will be five more movies.

PG-13. At area theaters. Contains violence, bloody images, sexual content and language. 104 minutes.

Washington-area native Stephanie Merry covers movies, theater and art for Weekend and the Going Out Guide. She’s also the section’s de facto expert on yoga, gluten-free dining and bicycle commuting.
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