Directed by: Oz Rodriguez
Premise: A group of teenagers living in the Bronx discover that a real estate company buying up local properties is actually a den of vampires who plan to take over the neighborhood. The teens must convince their neighbors of the danger.
What Works: Vampires vs. the Bronx exists in a tradition of horror pictures about teenagers combating the undead and this picture shows influence from earlier films like Fright Night, The Lost Boys, and The Monster Squad. While it works within a retro framework, Vampires vs. the Bronx updates the material and brings a fresh spin to it. The story begins as one of urban gentrification. Three friends, all young men of color, navigate their early teenage years while their community changes right in front of them. One of the young men is a burgeoning activist trying to mobilize the community against the takeover of the neighborhood by a real estate company and it is no coincidence that the vampires are all played by white actors. The racial and social themes give Vampires vs. the Bronx a contemporary feel and bring the vampire story into this particular cultural moment. Jaden Michael, Gerald Jones III, and Gregory Diaz IV play the young lead characters and they are likable and distinct. They generally make smart decisions while still coming across authentically their age. Their knowledge of vampires comes from pop culture which leads to some comedy. Vampires vs. the Bronx is quite funny. The humor doesn’t trivialize the threat of the undead but the comedy does humanize the characters and create some contrast with the horror.
What Doesn’t: This is a small scale movie and the modesty of the production is sometimes at odds with the implication of the premise. This story is about an invasion and the title Vampires vs. the Bronx implies a bigger scope than what actually plays out. The way the film goes back to the traditional and threatening Dracula-esque vampire is refreshing; the genre is finally turning the page from the emo-vampires of the Twilight era. But Vampires vs. the Bronx isn’t so sure in its tone. The movie is rated PG-13 and it shifts between a scary, teen oriented horror picture and a more kid-friendly adventure. That’s evident in some of the vampire action which occasionally comes across more goofy than scary.
DVD extras: Currently available on Netflix.
Bottom Line: Vampires vs. the Bronx is a likable mix of horror, action, and comedy. The movie is a little wobbly in its tone but the film succeeds in combining classic vampire tropes with a contemporary story.
Episode: #827 (November 15, 2020)