Vampires vs. the Bronx (Film Review)
Story: Facing the gentrification of the Bronx, Miguel and his associates examine the true nature of the newcomers in their neighborhood, just to find they’re blood-sucking vampires hellbent on exterminating everybody on the town.
Review: How do you want your takes on class warfare in fashionable America? If through a vigorous Bronx-centered story with a heavy dose vampire-hunting intrigue and terror that includes loads of references to Wesley Snipes’ BLADE and different vampire tales – however largely BLADE – then VAMPIRES VS. THE BRONX might be your flick. Of course, with this bundle additionally comes the STRANGER THINGS-type angle that’s turning into a bit too commonplace in motion pictures and tv, however hey, when executed with vampire fangs and a biting humorousness, it makes up for lots of the acquainted teen hijinks.
Now, with the Netflix label connected to the movie, it’s arduous to disregard that second issue when you think about how briskly they should have jumped on the probability to amass it given it’s resemblance to their hit reveal. But then there are additionally motion pictures like IT and SUMMER OF 84 reminding us all how enjoyable it’s to observe youngsters being chased by killers and monsters, that means we must be prepared for an increasing number of filmmakers placing their stamp on the style. That’s turning into more durable and more durable to do, given how a lot time must be spent on watching youngsters run round city moving into mischief and attempting to persuade adults that there’s something spooky occurring. But not less than right here, director Osmany “Oz” Rodriguez’s (additionally co-writing with Blaise Hemingway) take does have a novel, admirable dose of cultural relevancy, tackling the gentrification of the Bronx by that includes his younger heroes attempting to reveal how some bougie white incomers are attempting to destroy the very foundation of their neighborhood – on this case, the bougie white incomers being, actually, immortal, blood-sucking garlic haters.
With the angle, it’s arduous to not have enjoyable with V.v.B. From the primary scene that includes a vampire lurking out of the shadows, draping its lengthy, white talon-like fingers throughout the shoulder of a nail salon proprietor earlier than getting in for the kill – all with a big-haired Shea Whigham grinning on the sidelines – Rodriguez hits the nail on the top in terms of the sheer enjoyable and spookiness of his flick. He has a transparent love for vampire motion pictures and tales – early on throwing out nods to Stephen King’s “Salem’s Lot” and to F.W. Murnau’s NOSFERATU (didn’t discover any for the Herzog remake…) – and simply getting the general vibe of their creepy presence and the way they will make your pores and skin crawl by merely lingering round. And as a lot as that is an ode to vampire historical past, it’s additionally a love letter to the Bronx itself. The lead teen, Miguel (Jaden Michael), is a passionate member of the neighborhood attempting to throw a block occasion to save lots of his favourite bodega, and over the course of his early scenes spreading the nice phrase, we meet a implausible assortment of numerous facet characters who deliver town to life with their very own vitality and senses of humor. While we ultimately spend everything of the film with Miguel and his vampire-hunting associates, Luis (Gregory Diaz IV) and Bobby (Gerald W. Jones), there’s sufficient sturdy character work across the neighborhood that might make them value exploring throughout a miniseries.
But these residents are all dealing with the Bronx because it’s altering in entrance of them, as a realty group is paying all of them tons of cash for his or her outlets and buildings, all within the name of turning it right into a new Williamsburg, meant to residence to new artisanal outlets and cafes that specialize just in various sorts of regionally churned butter. Again, it’s a commendable strategy to the storytelling that doesn’t merely discover teenagers going up in opposition to vamps, however slightly makes use of the villains as sharp-toothed figureheads to discover a really actual problem affecting communities across the nation. For the characters, some view this as a saving grace, being given an opportunity to flee town and at last dwell a lifetime of consolation within the suburbs, whereas others, like Miguel, see it because the destruction of his neighborhood and tradition…and really quickly the work of everlasting night time beasts who want to exterminate the resident with every new acquisition. But true to type, nobody believes the teenagers once they discover the actual shit occurring, so now Miguel and his associates have to review up on vampire lore in hopes of saving the day themselves.
The very nature of this a part of the storytelling permits for us as an viewers to spend extra time among the many neighborhood and it’s people – like Tony the bodega proprietor (The Kid Mero), the stern-as-hell Father Jackson (Method Man), and even Frank, the vamps acquainted (Whigham, clearly having a superb time) — as the teenagers attempt to put collectively the clues. There’s even a worthwhile B-plot involving Bobby’s wrestle with staying out of gang life that provides a bit extra drama to him and his associates’ relationship. And but, Rodriguez and Hemingway’s script doesn’t fairly determine tips on how to step out from the shadow of different related motion pictures – with this huge part of teen-centric sleuthing not offering many vampire chills, thrills, or a lot else past a couple of laughs. The vampires themselves (Sarah Gadon, Adam David Thompson, and extra) are positively within the shadows, with not a ton left to do till the ultimate 20 minutes outdoors of standing round and searching cool/creepy of their black garments. In reality, it’s arduous to discern any actual bloodiness or carnage to necessitate even the PG-13 ranking, feeling largely like one thing geared strictly in the direction of the teen-or-below market.
And whereas there’s a lot to admire about Rodriguez’s strategy to the vampire lore and horror filmmaking – particularly with loads of deep reds and neon greens within the cinematography – it turns into an actual disgrace to note that in terms of the social commentary and vampire parts, the film doesn’t fairly have the tooth to sink into the fabric as successfully because it might. Yes, the themes of gentrification and sophistication warfare are current (very like one other comedy this yr, GET DUKED!), however it by no means goes explored past the floor. The intent of the vampires coming into the Bronx is rarely explored past the plain, and whereas Miguel very a lot loves his neighborhood, the remainder of the residents, whereas well-written as people, aren’t given time to replicate on the problems. We don’t get to listen to from them about what they consider their neighborhood altering means, aside from that change simply all the time occurs. They do not even get in on the vampire searching a lot themselves (not less than till the ultimate minutes), so it feels much less like “Vampires vs. the Bronx” and extra like “Vampires vs. three youngsters from the Bronx, after which type of different people from the Bronx.” There have been alternatives right here to each actually dig into the context of the social points whereas additionally going bonkers with the style parts, and the film manages to do neither.
But, as I famous earlier than, there’s one thing concerning the film that hints its actually just for the least demanding viewers in thoughts. Rodriguez places sufficient of his mark on it to make it largely stand out from its counterparts, however it still very a lot follows int their footsteps to the purpose where you’ll be able to hit the beats by yourself earlier than the film will get there. Even in the plan of violence you’d should do a frame-by-frame to note the drops of blood. And but, as I stated, due to an amazing humorousness and a few colourful moments that break up the routineness of a lot of the story, it’s arduous to not have not less than some enjoyable with VAMPIRES VS. THE BRONX. Plus, if the film will get younger viewers to take a look at BLADE, or go even additional back and take a look at NOSFERATU, then it achieves a particular type of success that’s actually worthy of reward. I imply, something that will get people to recollect how a lot Snipes kicked ass as Blade must be a winner in anybody’s book.