Vampires vs. The Bronx: It doesn’t suck
Vampire vs. the Bronx: It doesn't suck
Picture this: Vampires à la Underworld but instead of fighting werewolves, they’re gentrifying the Bronx.
That’s “Vampires vs The Bronx” in a nutshell. The film, co-written and directed by Osmany Rodriguez, follows a group of young friends, Miguel, Luis and Bobby as they fight to save their neighborhood.
Miguel is the first to discover vampires in his neighborhood when a vamp with a whack hairline kills neighborhood gangster Slim. The knowledge of their existence adds stress to Miguel’s [“Lil’ Mayor”] full plate. Not only has he been trying to save the local bodega, owned by Tony (The Kid Mero), but he has no game. Every interaction with the older girls who hang around, especially Rita, ends with him putting his foot in his mouth or embarrassed by his mother.
Miguel is joined by two friends, the vampire expert Luis and Bobby, who have the attention of local gang leader Henny.
The only brick wall they hit, like every teen film, is getting adults involved. It’s a generational gap unlike “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” where the adults just have different problems. Vampires don’t matter when they’ve got sleazy real estate agents, strange millennial businesses and suspicious, preppy White girls coming to suck the life-blood out of.
This all takes place against the backdrop of a vibrant, active neighborhood. The fun and sense of community are only marred by disappearing residents, local businesses and the vague menace of canvas-toting White people set to move in. Are their neighbors selling out and moving to the suburbs? Or are they being picked off by the vampires moving in?
Rodriguez, an SNL director with a long background in comedy, keeps the film light and campy with great line delivery. The supporting adults had the best lines littered throughout the movie. For example, Papo and his buddy Andre are in front of a sign for a business called Bone and Thread.
“I know right? Is it a clothing store or a restaurant?” [Which is very silly, very SNL.]
But he still manages to subtly work the parasitic relationship between Bobby and Henny in. Bobby’s stuck between good and evil, where Henny is attempting to initiate him to the life of crime that killed Bobby’s father. The subplot provides a sense of gravity to an otherwise extremely silly and light-hearted movie.
The rest of the film’s charm comes from the culture.
Rodriguez infuses Latinx culture into the core of the movie. It shows in the language, the community and experiences shared with the viewer.
“Vampires vs. The Bronx” doesn’t do anything different with vampires. It’s a campy love letter to the movies, shows and novels that came before like “Blade,” “Buffy” and Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
But it uses vampires as a clever, although transparent metaphor for gentrification and the negative effects of wealthy white investors upending communities of color.
The movie is light on horror and originality, but heavy on laughs. Rodriguez keeps the film upbeat with great jokes and a solid cast of characters.
While this isn’t a Halloween scare-fest, it’s still a fun movie to Netflix Party with your friends.
Director: Osmany Rodriguez
Cast: Jaden Michael, Gerald W. Jones III, Gregory Diaz IV, Sarah Gadon, Method Man, Shea Whigham, Coco Jones, The Kid Mero, Chris Redd, Vladimir Caamaño, Jeremie Harris, Adam David Thompson, Zoe Saldana
Writer: Osmany Rodriguez, Blaise Hemingway