Miguel walks through the neighborhood with his friend and bike.
It’s nearly Halloween, and spooky season is in full effect. Candy, pumpkins, and creepy costumes are bought and ready for the big day on the 31st. In the meantime, people are passing the days by watching scary movies. This usually means the classics like Halloween, Friday the 13th, Scream, The Shining, and more, but maybe this is the year you add something new to the horror film rotation. Vampires vs. the Bronx is a 2020 Netflix comedy horror film. Written and directed by Oz Rodriguez, the film stars Jaden Michael, Gerald W. Jones III, Gregory Diaz IV, Sarah Gadon, Method Man, Shea Whigham, Coco Jones, Chris Redd, Zoe Saldana, and The Kid Mero (co-host of the #1 show in late night, Desus & Mero).
The investigation leads to some unexpected places.
The film begins with Miguel (Michael) putting posters up across his neighborhood in the Bronx. He’s trying to save a local bodega owned and operated by Tony (Kid Mero). Along the way we meet the rest of the neighborhood and his friends Bobby (Jones) and Luis (Diaz). They have everyday teenager problems including trying to impress Miguel’s crush Vivian (Jones). The neighborhood has been suffering the effects of gentrification from an outside development company for a while now, and the next business to be taken over is Tony’s bodega. There has also been a long list of missing people piling up, with no leads into where they are disappearing to. This leads to Miguel’s discovering that the Bronx is actually being gentrified by a cult of vampires, and the disappearances are actually their victims.
Don’t forget the holy water bombs!
Naturally, the kids run to the adults to try to warn them of the invasion of the undead, but none of them believe the wild story. They all just assume this is normal gentrification and nobody caring about people in the Bronx going missing. In what might be the most heartbreaking lines in the movie, Miguel’s mom says, “Things change; the neighborhood changes. It’s our turn. It’s just what happens.” The way that the film uses vampirism as both a cause and metaphor for gentrification/white supremacy is very reminiscent of Get Out, although this is a little less subtle. The kids then have to take it upon themselves to save their neighborhood, arming themselves with garlic, crosses, wooden stakes, and the knowledge of how to kill vampires from the movie Blade.
This movie features several scene stealing moments from the adults in the neighborhood. The Kid Mero shines as bodega owner Tony, and just feels incredibly authentic. Chris Redd also has a couple of great one liners as does Method Man as the raving pastor. The kid actors do a fair job of carrying the majority of the film, but none of them are really memorable in ways that other child actors have been in other staples of the horror genre. One glaring issue from the film does stem from the makeup and costuming of the vampires, which never feels real or like anything other than a Halloween costume. It may have behooved the film to forgo the traditional, gothic vampire look, and instead just dress them in modern clothes, in order to make it feel the costuming look less ridiculous. Overall, this is a film with a lot of heart and soul, and is an easy watch that should definitely be on the docket to watch before Halloween this year.
Miguel takes down one of the vampires.
Miguel wears black low top chucks throughout the film.
The best chucks scene in the film is the opening. The first scene is Miguel riding his bike through the Bronx, and we meet the neighborhood. We see the colorful sights, sounds, and personalities that make up the barrio. Miguel is putting up posters that are promoting his “Save the Bodega” Block Party, and he’s doing it in the pair of black chucks that he’ll wear throughout the rest of the film. Chucks tend to be associated more with West Coast style, so it’s a different sight seeing them cruise the streets of the Boogie Down Bronx. This scene really highlights what makes neighborhoods like the Bronx so special. The people and the sense of community is put on full display and for those who aren’t used to the sights and sounds of the barrio, it’s a joy to watch
Cruising through the barrio.
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