Synopsis: A group of young friends from the Bronx fight to save their neighborhood from a band of vampires.
Honestly, that question Miguel (Jaden Michael) asks the Vivian (Sarah Gadon), a white woman new to the Bronx, “are you lost” forced a cackle from me. I flashed to me eyeing white people on the L train in NYC years ago. I questioned whether I should inform them that they missed their stop or ask if they were lost—despite them not looking confused. At the time, all white people emptied at Lorimer Street at the latest. Eventually, they were getting off at Morgan Ave, Dekalb Av, some even remained on the train after I departed. Even more hilarious a friend later asked if I’d notice anything weird about white people staying on trains because they noticed white people staying on the A train longer. This is how some of us first start to notice gentrification. Before long, there are more white people on the train than any other group—the process of being “priced out” because of gentrification. Vampires vs. the Bronx is a hilariously familiar good time.
I love the way it not only depicts the vibrancy, variety of the people but also what we see in the Bronx and neighborhoods like it. In the summer especially, you will see people hanging out, playing dominoes, music blaring from speakers set up outside, or parked cars. The level of community where store owners give their usual regulars credit, and the always essential bodega cat. Reminds me of another gentrifier story a few years back when a white person moved into a neighborhood and filed a complaint against a bodega for their cat. What was hilarious was the responses she received as she was ripped apart online. The music as well as a mixture of hip hop and Spanish music we’re familiar with.
The Bloodsucking Nature of Gentrification
The story is hilarious, particularly the interactions between not only the 3 teenage leads, Miguel, Bobby (Gerald Jones III), and Luis (Gregory Diaz IV), but their respective parental figures. This isn’t to say the film doesn’t have faults, but it is overall entertaining to such a point that minor faults can be overlooked. The film doesn’t take itself seriously and does not want or expect us to either. And that’s what makes is great. Where else is Method Man a priest?
The story and the parallels between gentrification, vampirism, and taking over a place is a large focus of the movie albeit with comedy galore thrown in. Overall, gentrification does supplant the homes and lives of the marginalized and poor and the most vocal about this are always those who are the most vulnerable, while cities and states chalk it up to the betterment of society as a whole. I did love this connection as I and countless others are currently living in it. And who is the biggest threat? The white person who came in the guise of friendship and unity. We’ve also seen this play out countless times, not only with gentrification but with “allies” in the fight again systemic oppression. They are down. Until our plans put a kink in theirs.
Characters Entertain, Stand Out and Feel Familiar
The characters and dialogue between Bronx residents are hilarious as personalities are animated and thoroughly entertaining. The conversations between the bodega owner, Tony (The Kid Mero), and the teenage boys make you laugh and smile in equal measure. When Rita (Coco Lewis) becomes the newest addition to their vampire hunting crew she is so calm explaining that she’s Haitian and that her grandmother prepared her for this. My favorite character was Gloria (Imani Lewis) live-streaming her GloTV to all her followers. I would’ve loved to see more Method Man because he’s made it clear repeatedly, with films like How High and Keanu, he can do comedy and then some.
While there will be quite a few who make the comparison that Vampires vs. the Bronx is trying to be The Lost Boys this story is unique. It’s present, it’s urban and it doesn’t comprise a cast of white people. I love The Lost Boys but I also know there is room for something more that speaks to a new diverse generation. Recommended not just for children but adults who love campy comedic horror.
Feature photo cr. Netflix