You like your horror in mashup form?
“Vampires vs. the Bronx” is “Attack the Block” meets “Do the Right Thing” in a lyrically (and amusingly) Latinized setting.
An activist teen (Jaden Michael) named Miguel, but who goes by “Lil Mayor” is the first one in his corner of The Bronx to figure out that the predatory (white) developers, Murnau Properties, that’s buying up every business in the ‘hood is actually a nest of vampires.
His pals, the hustler and the nerd (Gerald Jones III, Gregory Diaz IV), are slow to catch on. His priest (Method Man, LOL!) won’t hear it. His mentor, the bodega owner (The Kid Mero) has to see for himself…and rewatch “Blade” to be convinced.
All the while, Frank (Shea Whigham) is closing deals and assorted follow-up visits by whiter-than-whiter neck-biters finish off the sellers.
“Man, nobody’s gonna care…He’s (or she’s) from THE BRONX.”
Director Osmany Rodriguez and screenwriter Blaise Hemingway narrow the plot to the basics, dress up the proceedings with a generous helping of “flava” — street argot, slang, flippant under-reactions to extraordinary events — and let this genre goof of a comedy sprint by.
A major “Do the Right Thing” borrowing? Having the neighborhood “news” related by live-streaming blogger girl Gloria (Imani Lewis, sassy and hilarious) of “GloTV.”
“Sleep with one eye open and don’t get got,” she counsels, at one point.
Nerdy pal Luis (Diaz) is the “expert” on vampires of Lil Mayor’s crew, and as “Puerto Rican Harry Potter” gets no respect at all.
Bobby (Jones) has been kicked out of school, is trying his hand at rap and is flirting with the idea of joining Henny’s gang.
Henny (Jeremie Harris)? He’s not impressed by all these pale, long-haired white dudes in their 18th century overcoats.
“Yo, Hamilton! You LOST or something? Stop RIGHT there, Mozart!”
The kids have to figure out what’s behind the string of disappearances (Zoe Saldana, Latina nail salon spitfire, is the first victim) and take advice from Luis, who brings them up to date on vampire lore and vampire fighting, “stuff he read in a comic book.”
“It’s a GRAPHIC novel!”
There are no surprises left in the genre, so don’t expect any here.
Nobody should be making serious vampire or zombie movies at this stage of the horror cycle, so this riff on the genre absolutely fills the bill. And making it a commentary on gentrification? Inspired.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence, language and some suggestive references.
Cast: Jaden Michael, Gerald Jones III, Gregory Diaz IV, Sarah Gadon, Shea Whigham, Method Man, Coco Jones, The Kid Mero and Zoe Saldana
Credits: Directed by Osmany Rodriguez, script by Blaise Hemingway. A Universal/Netflix release.
Running time: 1:26