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Susan Granger's review of 'Vampire Academy'

Published 4:56 pm, Friday, February 21, 2014
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Think of it as "Twilight" hybrid, set in a "Harry Potter" Hogwarts-like boarding school for bloodsuckers, as teenage girls cope with dating dilemmas while they battle evil supernatural forces.

Insofar as exposition goes, there are three tribes of vampires: the full-blooded, mortal Moroi, peaceful folk who don't kill people when they drink their blood; the half-human, half-vampire Dhampirs, who guard the Moroi; and the evil, undead Strigoi, who are ruthless, vicious marauders, killing and drinking their victims' blood. Conflict inevitably occurs when the demand for hemoglobin exceeds the supply.

Returned to St. Vladimir's (a.k.a. Vampire Academy), somewhere in Montana, after running away, 17-year-old Rose Hathaway (Zoey Deutch) is a loyal Dhampir whose mission is to protect her best friend, Vasilisa "Lissa" Dragomir (Lucy Fry), a Moroi princess and the last in her lineage. As Lissa learns how to manipulate the elements (fire, water, air and earth), she and Rose can communicate telepathically. Complicating matters are the inevitable gossip, clique bullying, preparations for the Equinox dance and forbidden romance.

Plus there's Lissa's older mentor Dimitri Belikov (Danila Kozlovsky), Lissy's love interest Christian Ozera (former model Dominic Sherwood), Queen Tatiana (Joely Richardson), Headmistress Kirova (Olga Kurylenko) and the elderly, terminally ill Moroi leader, Victor Dashkov (Gabriel Byrne), with his ditsy daughter Natalie (Sarah Hyland), who becomes Rose's partner-in-crime.

Based on the bestselling tween book series by Richelle Mead, it's incoherently condensed for the screen by Daniel Waters ("Heathers") and directed by his brother, Mark Waters ("Mean Girls," "Freaky Friday"). They shamelessly combine cliched pop culture references and clunky vampire puns ("The stakes are high...") with familiar themes, highlighted by Rolfe Kent's score, featuring Katy Perry, Sky Ferreira, Natalia Kills and Au Revoir Simone.

By far the most engaging actress is Deutch, daughter of Lea Thompson and her "Some Kind of Wonderful" director Howard Deutch, and "Modern Family" fans will recognize Hyland.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Vampire Academy" is a fast-paced yet flaccid 2, a foolishly fanged fable. As the tagline suggests, "They suck at school."