Vamping up the dark side

Vamping up the dark side

Tiffany Lau

Sit tight on Thursday nights because there’s a new vampire in town.

Dear Diary,

"The Vampire Diaries", based on the novel series by L.J. Smith, premiered on Thursday, Sept. 10, was a big let down. Fans of "Twilight" will find that although it contains the same elements as any other vampire-themed novel—super speed, sense, and looks—it is not as lovey-dovey as its trailer made it out to be.

The plot starts off similarly to that of "Twilight"’s: a troubled girl, an "animal" attack, a spark at first sight and a secrecy. The show follows the formula of a pilot episode that is all too familiar and predictable. The fact that Elena Gilbert (Nina Dolbrev) is struggling because of the recent death of her parents tells a lot about the show and how the vampire’s role will play in the series.

CW's latest series "The Vampire Diaries" attempts to win the hearts and ratings of Twilight fans. Photo taken from CWTV.

Despite the generic plot, there is a key difference between "The Vampire Diaries" and "Twilight". The show is darker and less romantic, making it a combination of "Twilight" and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer". The "good" vampire Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley) and the "bad" vampire Damon Salvatore (Ian Somerhalder) are brothers who obviously had a bad history together. Their history brings forth a scarier side of the vampire world than "Twilight" because they aren’t glorified with glitter. They may possess the same powers as the Cullen family, but they don’t possess the same look or feel.

When these bad boys see blood, they don’t look constipated: they turn pale to the point that their veins are visible and their eyes become scarily darker. The special effects and portrayal of action are more intense than "Twilight"’s, as we can see in the scene where the victims of the "animal" attacks are snatched away. The scene is more natural than similar ones in "Twilight", though also more violent. Blood and action reveal the real world of vampires. There’s love, but that’s only half the story.

Instead of merely knowing that vampires have special powers and that they attack people, the audience can see and hear their powers—agility, strength and the ability to channel in conversations—as well as their attacks. Special effects and lighting make fight scenes between Stefan and Damon feels and looks stronger than that of Edward and James’s.

As a television series rather than a movie, "The Vampire Diaries" has the advantage of giving more room to characters besides Elena, Stefan and Damon. The other characters make the plot a little lighter. There is Elena’s best friend, Bonnie Bennett (Katarina Graham) who happens to have "psychic powers" and can see the future, Elena’s ex-boyfriend Matt Donovan (Zach Roerig) who is still in love with Elena, Elena’s brother Jeremy Gilbert (Steven R. McQueen) who is also troubled, and Elena’s friend Caroline Forbes (Candice Accola) who just wants a boyfriend. Unfortunately, it’s a stereotypical teenage group who will most likely have the generic roles as typecasts. But that’s why they make the plot light-hearted as part of the plot focuses on their struggle as an everyday teen rather than on the vampire theme.

Altogether, the series has the ability to capture "Twilight" fans at a glance with its vampire theme, but it does not capture the same romantic ambiance. Rather than basing the show entirely on Stefan and Elena, it balances out the aspect of mystery and love. The series has the potential to be better if it can stray away from the unoriginal plot.