VAMPIRES VS. THE BRONX
(director/writer: Oz Rodriguez; screenwriter: Blaise Hemingway/story by Oz Rodriguez; cinematographer: Blake McClure; editors: Sara Shaw/Alex O’Flinn; music: Brooke & Will Blair; cast: Jaden Michael (Miguel), Gerald W. Jones III (Bobby), Gregory Diaz IV (Luis), Sarah Gadon (Vivian), Method Man aka Cliff Smith (Father Jackson), Shea Whigham (Frank Polidan), Coco Jones (Rita), The Kid Mero (Tony), Chris Redd (Andre), Zoe Saldana (Becky), Joel Martinez (Tony), Judy Marte (Carmen), Jeremy Harris (Henny), Vladimir Caamaño (Papo), Imani Lewis (Gloria); Runtime: 85; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producer: Lorne Michaels; Netflix; 2020)
“Who would have thought with a title like that this would be a decent film!”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
An amusing horror comedy directed and written by SNL helmer Oz Rodriguez (“Brother Nature”). Who would have thought with a title like that this would be a decent film! I watched this film mainly because I liked The Warriors, another Bronx teen warrior flick, and because I was once again filled with nostalgia for the Bronx (I grew up there).
Blaise Hemingway glibly co-writes the slight screenplay with the director, who created the story. Oz adds zest to the story with some colorful and likable portrayals.
The Latino teenager Miquel (Jaden Michael) goes by the handle of “Lil Mayor.” The nervous politically active kid figures out the sleazy white newly arrived real estate developers, the Murnau Properties, a front for a vampire clan (the name encapsulates a garbled version of Nosferatu and its director F. W. Murnau, and the real estate agency also has a logo depicting Vlad The Impaler), must be up to some shenanigans by using vampires to buy up all the properties in his Bronx neighborhood after the agency raises the rents to force tenants out. Miquel’s amigos, the hustler Bobby (Gerald Jones III), recruited by gang leader Henny (Jeremy Harris) to join his gang after dropping out of school, and the vampire smarty dork Luis (Gregory Diaz IV), don’t catch on at first what’s up with the vampires. Meanwhile the local priest Father Jackson (Method Man) doesn’t want to believe such a strange thought as vampires in the Bronx. So the kid checks in with his mentor, Tony (The Kid Mero), the bodega owner, and is told by him to stick around as he checks out his wild story with those who should know what goes on in the Bronx streets.
When the realtor agent Frank (Shea Whigham) keeps closing deals and those raincoat wearing long-haired undead blonde dudes do their neck thing on the residents who refuse the cash offer to sell, the teens realize it’s some kind of hustle over gentrification (gentrification is seen as an evil whereby the whites will control their slum neighborhood).
The local blogger, from social media, Gloria (Imani Lewis) is a riot as she passes on the latest news to the boys through her sassy streaming blogs.
Luis, as the crew’s vampire expert, uses his smarts to figure out how to stop all the disappearances by the vampires, after the nail salon beauty, Becky (Zoe Saldana), is the first snatched.
Armed with street slang, wooden crosses and a lot of vinegar in their blood, the vampire hunter teens take on the vampires while fighting for the honor of the Bronx. The jokey film has some menace, it only lacks originality as maybe there have been too many recent blood-sucker films to expect anything totally new. But I never saw this one before, a communion wafer used as a weapon.
The result is a tasty tasteless lightweight indie that’s good for a nighttime snack, and makes a few valid social conscious points about the poor and the minorities being exploited by developers who use gentrification to make a killing off the most vulnerable in our society.
REVIEWED ON 12/16/2020 GRADE: B