Die Vampirschwestern (2012)

I doubt this film German film, whose title translates as “The Vampire Sisters”, is available in English, but I can assure you that this it not a great loss – there is a reason why this German film never made much waves internationally. There is little to like or dislike about Die Vampirschwestern. It is a harmless film, but unfortunately also rather uninventive. Some traditional vampire topoi are being twisted, but nothing really new is on offer:

The Tepes family are nice, ordinary people. Well, not quite ordinary: father Mihai (played by Croatian-born Stipe Erceg) is a vampire; and since his wife is human, their daughters Silvania and Dakaria are half-vampires.
Having been raised in Transylvania, the two 12-year-old girls (are they non-identical twins? who knows) now have to adapt to going to a human school, as their family has moved to Germany. Cue hijinks, school troubles, and first love. Silvania really enjoys the new environment, as she wishes to be human rather than a half-vampire. Her sister, on the other hand, would rather be a “real” vampire than the half-and-half-affair her genetic layout made her. Throw in some school bullies and a would-be vampire hunter and you have your film.

This story is a run-of-the-mill children’s film, roughly suitable for kids aged 9 to 12. It is clearly aimed at a female audience too young for Twilight and too old for The Little Vampire (2000). While it is a decent film, it fails to deliver fun. There is not much humour in this film, and the jokes that are in there are either lame, or old, or both. Instead of fun, the film makers tried to go for adventure, but there the film falls flat. We are told there are things at stake, but we never feel it. This is largely (but not exclusively) down to the fact that the script fails to give us an even half-way decent villain. This is a children’s adventure that does not deliver the kind of tension and drama that the age-group the film targets deserves. It is too mild, too childish, and while not really wanting to be a comedy it tries to aim for comedy in its villains – that is a hybridisation that cannot work.

 

On the plus side, the cast is good, including the child actors led by Marta Martin as Silvania and Laura Antonia Roge as Dakaria; special mention should go to Jamie Bick who possibly delivered the best performance of all the child actors. Veteran actress Christiane Paul delivers her usual high quality as the mother, while Michael Kessler, a well-known German comedian playing the Tepes’ neighbour, fails to overcome the bad writing his character was saddled with.

Another acting/writing problem: two important supporting characters (two of the Tepes sisters’ school mates apparently named Jacob and Ludo) are so similar in their personality, behaviour and looks, that I only realised at the very end of the film that they are two different characters.

 

Die Vampirschwestern has some nice messages about tolerance, about accepting difference in others (and in yourself), and about staying true to oneself. But the film shows us little that Young Dracula has not already shown us in a much better way. That BBC show has everything that Die Vampirschwestern lacks: fun, excitement, self-awareness, and substantial characters. For me, Die Vampirschwestern is (yet again) proof that most mainstream German film makers can produce films that are nice, wholesome, and didactic; but funny or unique is not in their repertoire.

Based on a series of kids’ novels by Franziska Gehm, Die Vampirschwestern has already spawned a sequel, and more are to follow.

 

This is strictly for kids only and has little enjoyment for grown-ups. There is no reason to see this film; but then, I could also give you no particular reason why you should avoid it. But for prepubescent kids too young for Twilight, there is much more interesting vampire-related material out there, like the aforementioned Young Dracula. But even a Disney Channel show like My Babysitter’s a Vampire (while goofy at times) is more fun than Die Vampirschwestern.

 

I would rate Die Vampirschestern roughly at 6.0 out of 10; yet imdb’s current rating of 5.6 – though a bit harsh – still seems fair to me.

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