Director: Oz Rogriguez
Writers: Oz Rodriguez and Blaise Hemingway
Starring: Jaden Michael, Gerald W. Jones III, Gregory Diaz IV, Sarah Gadon, Cliff ‘Method Man’ Smith, Shea Whigham
Miguel (Jaden Michael) is trying really hard to raise money for the local bodega in the Bronx. He’s having a bloc party to try and help the owner with the rising rents. All around the neighbourhood stores are being brought up by a mysterious company. When Miguel is being chased on the way home, he finds out that the newcomers on the block are actually vampires. He sets out with his friends to try and stop them and save not only the bodega but everyone in the neighbourhood.
Like most great horrors Vampires vs. the Bronx spends a good amount of time setting up the characters at the beginning of the film, giving us time to get to know them and want them to survive the inevitable horrors of the later half. There’s a few tense moments later that only work because the characters feel so real and you’re invested in them, you don’t want them to die.
The whole film is only around eighty minutes long, it absolutely flies by. Once the set up is out of the way the action starts and then it feels like it’s over very quickly. It builds up and reaches its climactic fight too quickly. After developing the characters and neighbourhood so well, it’s a shame that there isn’t enough done with the high stakes. You really care about the main characters, and while there is some loss along the way, it feels like it’s over before it’s really begun.
The story of vampires moving into an unsuspecting neighbourhood and buying retail has been done quite a few times. It’s an archetype of the genre. With them setting up strange fashion and furniture stores that most of the residents wouldn’t be able to afford to shop in, it feels like it’s borrowed a lot from Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot, where the vampires open an antiques store that the residents can’t afford to shop in. While in King’s novel it’s used as a cover to move in the coffins, in Vampires vs. the Bronx it is a metaphor for gentrification and how certain neighbourhoods are losing their core identity with increasing prices forcing out families.
The action is pretty lacking in this film. There’s a few nice moments, especially the vampire attacking the bodega, but it doesn’t have any truly thrilling action sequences. The attacks are quick and ruthless, the vampire deaths are very fast, which makes it feel like the vampires don’t have very good fighting skills. They go down very easily. While it isn’t an all-out comedy there are still a lot of funny moments and it has an upbeat tone with some really funky scene transitions, sound effects and almost comic-book feel to it.
For all its flaws at the centre of Vampires vs. the Bronx is a cast of likable and great characters. It may not be an all-time classic, but it’s still a good vampire film, with a lot of recycled plot points, that is very entertaining.
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