Director: Oz Rodriguez
Writers: Oz Rodriguez and Blaise Hemingway
Starring: Jaden Michael, Gerald Jones III, Gregoyr Diaz IV
Genre: Comedy / Horror
A group of young friends from The Bronx fight to save their neighbourhood from gentrification caused by an invasion of vampires.
Gentrification is very prominent in many of London’s boroughs right now in that a gradual infiltration of wealthy individuals eventually pushes the property prices up way beyond the reach of local residents, and forcing to leave the area they call home, and generic newbuild developments keep on appearing along with exclusively middle class retail outlets that only sell avocado-based food. I am sure there are many inner-city neighbourhoods around the world facing the same issue, and The Bronx is probably one of them. While I do not believe the new residents in these boroughs to be actual literal vampires (though certain metaphorical comparisons are obvious!), the premise of Vampires Vs. The Bronx does give it some welcomed substance and prevalence, even if the socio-political messages and metaphors contained within the narrative are painfully obvious. Though ‘gentrification by vampires’ is admittedly quite a new concept as far as I am aware!
Director Oz Rodriguez and co-writer Baise Hemingway appear to be very much aware of what kind of film they are making and its limitations, and so they know that the film (while containing a certain amount of limited prevalence) does not particularly make any kind of bold or allegorical political statements. Instead they focus on trying to make the film fun, and the result is an immensely enjoyable and watchable film that will certainly perfectly fill a 90 minute void should anyone be flicking through Netflix and be after something not too challenging to watch.
I am not sure if those involved have seen Attack the Block, but Vampires Vs. The Bronx certainly has a few similarities to that British film, which is also equally enjoyable and forgettable. What is possibly its most important trump card is that its main characters are extremely likeable and worth routing for. All three members of the young cast deliver great performances and have their own unique characteristics and character arcs – though these are admittedly very minor and the film may well have benefitted from these being given a little more narrative focus.
While it is obvious why films want to have a 12A rating (though for Netflix films this is surely less of an issue), the rating of Vampires Vs. The Bronx does unfortunately attribute to its downfall slightly in that its darker elements (it does feature some rather merciless and nasty vampires after all!) often do not fit with the lighter elements of the film, making the overall narrative have an inconsistent tone and there sometimes be less of a feeling of genuine danger then there actually should be.
Of course any vampire films now contain inevitable genre clichés, and how this film embraces those is dealt with very playful references to the genre and of course the ‘classic’ methods of killing vampires, and this film never tries to re-invent the vampire myth, it just embraces the classic myths and has some genuine fun with them.
Though it may lack the substance or genuine sense of danger that it could have done if all involved had opted to make the film slightly darker, at a suitably lean 86 minutes Vampires Vs. The Bronx is actually one of the better recent Netflix releases.
Though its metaphors are obvious, thanks to some superb leading performances and all involved never showing ambition beyond their means, Vampires Vs. The Bronx is a suitably silly and light-hearted film that is very watchable and enjoyable. Disappointing
At time of writing Vampires Vs. The Bronx is available to stream on Netflix. Trust me – you can do much worse!