Vampires vs. the Bronx is a mix of better films but has a lot of heart. This film is like The Goonies, Fright Night, and Stand by Me all combined into one. It offers a message about gentrification and the importance of urban areas coming together to save their neighborhoods. An effective coming of age film that has a point to it, and tosses vampires into the mix.
Coming of age films always have a strong central message at the core, and its those messages being portrayed on-screen in unique ways that lead those films to be cult classics. Vampires vs. the Bronx is a humorous tale about a group of friends trying to save their neighborhood. This is another social commentary based film, but it doesn’t beat you over the head with its message. Directed and co-written by Osmany Rodriguez, the film stars Jaden Michael, Gerald Jones, Gregory Diaz, Sarah Gadon, Method Man, Coco Jones, and The Kid Mero. It follows a trio of friends, Miguel, Bobby, and Luis, who all live in the Bronx. A company is threatening the future of their neighborhood, so they team up to save it from gentrification and vampires.
Following the patterns of The Boy Who Cried Wolf, none of the adults in town listen to these three kids. A real estate company is buying out the properties in this neighborhood, but these people are also vampires and no one listens till its to late, as usual. Michael, Bobby, and Luis are all likable characters since they are the nerds that don’t fit in. They have crushes on older girls and spend most of their free time at the local bodega. Rodriguez co-wrote the script with Blaise Hemingway, and it’s littered with cheesy jokes, racial subtext, bland adults, and almost exactly what you’d expect from this type of film. The decision to use vampires may be to draw a comparison to how these companies drain the former life of an area to create a new life for others.
Our main trio of friends are likable and developed enough where you can identify them starting as outcasts and becoming more accepted in their area as the film progresses. Their parents are generic and very formulaic. They offer nothing to the story outside of just being the authority over these kids. As for their performances, they are fine for what they have to work with, but I expect they’ll have better projects to shine in down the road. The chemistry between them is impeccable and highlights the friendship being portrayed. Gadon is great as Vivian, the leader of this awful vampire cult terrorizing the Bronx. Her delivery if fine, but none of these vampires are very intimidating. However, this can be because Vampires vs. the Bronx isn’t very serious anyway outside of being a message against gentrification.
Rodriguez balances horror and comedy just fine and chooses a very fast pace for most of the film. This decision gives the film a lot of energy, and it never grows tiring or overstays its welcome. Perhaps if the runtime were longer, some better decisions would have been made because the effects on these vampires are awful. During the more terrifying moments, Vivian’s crew of vampires decide to fly at times and the effects are just atrocious. Also, Vampires vs. the Bronx has a closing act that just felt forced in a way because of how each kid is given a subplot that amounts to nothing in the end. For instance, Bobby is being tempted by criminals to join a gang, and it’s never fully explored or made relevant in the end.
Vampires vs. the Bronx is effective at being a solid horror comedy but falters a bit in its narrative and poor effects. The central message is made clear, the performances are all great as well, but the poor effects will take you out of the film. Still, Vampires vs. the Bronx is a nice throwback to better films and is a lot of fun from start to finish.