The 2020 film, Vampires vs. the Bronx is like a mash-up of 2009’s Zombieland and 1993’s Hocus Pocus, with a side heaping of 2021’s Candyman (which technically was made earlier, but delayed due to the pandemic).
This comedy-horror teen flick follows a group of teens in the Bronx who are trying to save the neighborhood from gentrification by a bunch of rich, white people, who oh, turn out to be vampires!
So, the Zombieland land element is that there’s some tongue-in-cheek comedy here and gaming out of how vampires work and what the rules are in dealing with them, primarily provided by the hilariously well-casted and acted Gregory Diaz IV, playing Luis Acosta, one of Miguel’s friends (played by Jaden Michael). Diaz also played Sonny in the musical drama from this year, In the Heights, which this also reminded me of where the characters in that film are also trying to save their neighborhood.
They even watch Wesley Snipe’s Blade to figure out how vampires work, which is hilarious. But also makes me want to go back and watch those films!
As for Hocus Pocus, it’s because this film is generally something I think you can watch with your teens and perhaps even pre-teens and it would be okay. The effects of the vampires floating and flying toward the teens actually reminded me of the witches in Hocus Focus flying at those teens. Where it’s not meant to be scary or horrifying.
And the film being an overall not-so-subtle metaphor for gentrification and the community manifest in minority neighborhoods — and the bodega being the centerpiece, which, I can’t believe they killed off Tony (played by Joel Martinez), who runs the bodega! — is what makes it similar to the themes in Candyman.
Overall, I thought this was a really breezy (it’s only 80-ish minutes), fun romp for a Sunday night when I watched it. Miguel, Luis and Bobby (played by Gerald Jones III), the third friend, are all likable characters you want to root for. And in fact, there’s another interesting, if somewhat predictable, side plot where Bobby is being lured into and recruited by a local gang, putting him at odds with Miguel. Eventually, Bobby kicks the gang to the side, realizing it’s more than he wants to do (and the gang gets killed by the vampires), and re-joins the friendly vampire-hunting gang.
The ending sequence where the dominant vampire, Vivian (played by Sarah Gadon) takes on a gaggle of Bronx residents was hilarious and silly. Why do they attempt to fight her one at a time?! Charge her all together!
And the final element: Gloria (played by Imani Lewis) has been livestreaming the happenings in the neighborhood, which is another hilarious element, but wouldn’t that tell the rest of the world that VAMPIRES exist?! Maybe the people watching the stream don’t believe it.
Anyhow, if you’re looking for a fun, silly and slightly horror-filled film with vampires (you gotta love the classic monsters’!), then give Vampires vs. the Bronx a shot.