Vampires Vs The Bronx
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‘A group of young friends from the Bronx fight to save their neighbourhood from a band of vampires.’

–  Netflix.

Introduction To Vampires Vs. The Bronx

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There is a long line of Movies that have the synopsis in the title –
Snakes on a Plane 2006, The Towering Inferno (1974), Lesbian Vampire Killers 2009. Joining this esteemed list is Vampires vs. the Bronx.

Vampires vs. the Bronx is a horror comedy.  It takes aim squarely at the family end of the film spectrum and as it features Vampires, and has a little gore.

Like many films these days you may think that Vampires vs. the Bronx is based on a comic or graphic novel. In fact, it is an original screen play, written and directed by Osmany Rodriguez (famous for being a Saturday Night Live film segment director.) Originally slated for release by Universal Studios, Netflix picked up the distribution rights and started streaming it in October 2020.

Netflix’s official synopsis states:

‘A group of young friends from the Bronx fight to save their neighbourhood from a band of vampires.’

Vampires vs. the Bronx is directed by Oz Rodriguez, former Saturday Night Live director and been written by Oz Rodriguez and Blaise Hemingway

A mysterious corporation has arrived in the Bronx and is buying out the local stores. Their owners are apparently leaving the Bronx with cash offers they cannot refuse.  Miguel Martinez (Lil Mayer) sets about attempting to organise a Bloc Party, fundraiser to save his local Bodega (convenience store) and expresses concerns to the locals that the neighbourhood is being gentrified. No one takes any notice as after all he is just a kid. After witnessing a Vampire in action taking out one of the local Gang members, Miguel runs into the Bodega and tries to convince the owner, and stand in father figure, ‘Tony’ (The Kid Mero) he had seen a vampire.  Tony does not believe him, after all he is a kid!  Eventually his two friends’ clock onto the fact that the vampire did not appear in a mirror. Finally believing ‘Lil Mayer’ the trio set out trying to save the Bronx from the Vampire infiltration, aided by a teenage girl with special vampire knowledge (Coco Jones) and a Priest (Method Man) who has a hard time forgiving past sins.

Think Goonies meets stranger things, and you get the tone of the movie.

There are a lot of comments on social media and other reviews that Netflix Vs the Bronx is a dumbed down vampire movie, and that it has been ‘Netflixed’ and sanitised of gore. After watching the film, I think these comments totally miss the point of Vampires vs. the Bronx. Not only is the film aimed at a younger audience, but Rodriguez uses the script to tackle underlying social themes. It is a type of storytelling not usually seen in more traditional Vampire movies.

  • We have a group of 3 Bronx kids: Bobby Carter, Luis Acosta, and Miguel Martinez (aka Lil Mayer) Miguel being the glue that holds the trio together. This group dynamic is strained with Bobby seemingly on the fringes of joining a Bronx gang and on course to end up like Lil Mayer’s father…deceased. This is a theme that crops up several times.
  • The kids are growing up and trying to impress the girls they are awkward, geeky have overprotective parents, and are acting older than their age, something most teenagers can relate to.
  • The Bronx itself – being from the middle of England the only awareness and preconceptions I have of the Bronx are that it is a no-go area, full of trouble and gangs. Here the Bronx is portrayed as a tight knit community. Everyone knows everyone else and family values drive the community. It is quite a refreshing take on what could quite easily be portrayed as a gang run ghetto.
  • Generation X’s fascination with social media is explored with a character live steaming various events.

Rodriguez  and his team are clearly fans of Vampire fiction. Hints of other franchises are sprinkled all over the movie.

The colour red predominantly appears.

The Corporation taking over the Bronx is ominously called Murnau Enterprises and the company logo incorporates the image of Vlad the Impaler.  The first Vampire film was Nosferatu (1922) directed of course by  F.W. Murnau.

Stephen King’s Salem’s lot is seen being read.

Look out for Luis’s special vampire knowledge.  He is well versed in how to handle vampires and convinces the trio to use the Blade movies as source material for training! Queue the on screen cameo of Wesley Snipes’ Blade.

This is no Shaun of the Dead level ‘funny’ movie, but it does have some nice comedic moments sprinkled through the film.  These are delivered in a mix of one liners that embarrass the kids, ominous but witty posters in the background of shots, or dialogue the kids say when slaying vampires. It is this mix of ‘in your face’ and subtle humour that lightens what could otherwise be a very dark movie

Overall Rodriguez and Hemingway (Blaise, not the famous author) have created a smart family friendly script.

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Standout Casting

Rating 8 out of 10

Rating 8/10

The film is a who is who of talent, so I have picked out 3 performances that stand out good or bad…

Sylvester McCoy

There is a certain irony that is not lost on me of casting an Icon of Dr Who as an on-screen village Doctor and It’s great to see McCoy onscreen again. He seems to be relishing playing Dr.Huggins.  McCoy has built a career on his quirky personality and it’s in full force in this film.  When we first see the doctor he has been kidnapped and tied up, McCoy is able to play the doctor as both timid and nervous. He has a certain kindness about him, whilst his eyes suggest something darker. As the film progresses, he is able to convey how his love for his wife is driving his perverse behaviour which gets more intense by the minute. It reminds me of the spiral to madness that Jack Nicholson goes through during The Shining, (although with a different level of intensity). McCoy’s energy just gets weirder and it’s a brilliant performance from someone who I consider to be more of a comedic actor. I very much enjoyed watching McCoy explore such an evil character.

Rita Tushingham

Famous for her turn in 1956’s Doctor Zhivago, Tushingham joins the cast of The Owners as Dr Higgins’ wife ‘Ellen’, a woman who is sadly experiencing signs of Alzheimers, mixed with moments of clarity. As someone who has seen first-hand how Alzheimers can play havoc with someone’s personality, I think Tushingham nails her performance.  One moment she could be nursing Terry in a very motherly way, whilst giving him an injection of dubious intent, and a split second later the Alzheimer’s makes her turn on Mary.  Tushingam makes the transition seamlessly, it is intense and catches the characters completely off guard. This means that Tushingham is able to make her character go to darker places than Mccoy. It is a captivating performance for an actress not known for horrors.

Maisie Williams

When Julius Berg met with Dan Hubbard, to discuss casting, Hubbard had only one name for the lead character Mary and that was Maisie Williams. It was an instant yes from Berg.  Likewise, it’s easy to see why Williams signed on.  Films of this genre can be accused of having weak female characters, but The Owners attempts to break the mould.  Williams’s character Mary goes from not having a major part to play in the film at the beginning, through to being very much the central character by the end, and she gives one hell of a fight.  Unfortunately, though, Berg seems to have missed out giving any depth to Williams’s character. We learn very little about her and she is forced to spend the last part of the film running and screaming, so in that regard Berg does not push the genre forward. That said Williams does well with what she is given to do, despite the characters limitations. If you have ever seen Williams play Arya Stark in Game of Thrones, then you will be very familiar with how she portrays the character of Mary.  For me I would have liked to see Williams stretch herself a little further with the characterisation.

 Stand Out Casting…

The film is a who is who of talent, so I have picked out 3 performances that stand out good or bad…

Jaden Michael as Miguel Martinez

Jaden is an upcoming talent, at only 16 years old, he already has a list of notable credits including Blue Bloods. He takes the lead role in this film and does not miss a step.  He is asked to not only provide comic relief but also deliver action set pieces when taking out Vampires. He is totally believable as the kid no one listens to and seems to be having a great time on set. Spot on bit of casting!

Method Man as Father Jackson

Father Jackson is a gruff catholic priest who does not tolerate bad behaviour and has seemingly thrown one of Miguel’s friends out of church.  It is more of a cameo appearance but he is central to the plot, how else are the Kids going to get holy water? Played both straight and for laughs, Method man lands a little gravitas to proceedings and did make me smile when I realised who it was. (Insert your own joke about method acting here)

Coco Jones as Rita

This casting and character story arc poses a bit of a problem, firstly Rita is only shown in the background of scenes for the first half of the movie. It is not until the second half of the movie Coco gets anything to do, and then it is not a lot of support.  Her character does not seem as well thought out as the boys and seems somehow shoehorned into the screenplay.

Secondly, I am not sure what age Rita is supposed to be, but if by my reckoning Coco was in her 30’s was this was filmed and it shows, she powers over the boys physically she doesn’t look even close to the boys age and when you notice it, it’s a little of putting.  That is not to say Coco Jones performance is bad, I think she pretty much nailed what she was given to do. Her character just needed a little bit more thought in the writer’s room.

 What to Look Out for…

Production Values

This may be a straight to Netflix production, but the visual effects hold up, the vampires have the usual demonic pale look that’s become the norm across this genre.

The the effects, sets and costumes do not look cheap even though the film is straight to VOD and the director implements a clever use of lighting to aid suspense

The soundtrack works really well with the action on screen, but is not memorable and the score does not seem to appear on any streaming services.

Netflix present the film in HD only with standard 5.1 sound. No Dolby Vison or ATMOS on this release.

Interesting info / Easter Eggs

Vampires vs. the Bronx, has clearly been produced by fans of Vampire fiction. Hints of other franchises are sprinkled all over the movie.

The colour red predominantly appears.

The Corporation taking over the Bronx is ominously called Murnau Enterprises and the company logo incorporates the image of Vlad the Impaler.  The first Vampire film was Nosferatu (1922) directed of course by  F.W. Murnau.

Stephen King’s Salem’s lot is seen being read.

Look out for Luis’s special vampire knowledge.  He is well versed in how to handle vampires and convinces the trio to use the Blade movies as source material for training! Queue the on screen cameo of Wesley Snipes’ Blade.

Comedy touches

This is no Shaun of the Dead level ‘funny’ movie, but it does have some nice comedic moments sprinkled through the film.  These are delivered in a mix of one liners that embarrass the kids, ominous but witty posters in the background of shots, or dialogue the kids say when slaying vampires. It is this mix of ‘in your face’ and subtle humour that lightens what could otherwise be a very dark movie.

Is Vampires Vs. The Bronx Any Good?

This is a fun almost family friendly vampire flick, that has more layers than a film like this should have. It’s great to see that the story is a little bit more fleshed out (pardon the pun) than the title suggests. It’s easy to see why Netflix picked it up as it is well produced, and the effects are fine for this type of film. Vampires vs. the Bronx does not have ‘Underworld’ levels of gore, but it doesn’t need to and it knows it. Essentially is a Spielberg type kid’s adventure, that has a lot of fun referencing other vampire franchises along the way.

The Silver Hedgehog: Rating

The Script / Screenplay - 9
Casting - 8
Music / Score - 6
Visual Effects and Costumes - 8
Video Quality - 6

7.4

Recommended

If you want to watch gore, fire up Blade, if you want to watch a group of kids going on an adventure, saving the Bronx and destroying vampires, then watch this.

End Credits

Age Rating 12

Release Date 02 October 2020

Director Oz Rodriguez

Written By: Oz Rodriguez and Blaise Hemingway

Cast: Jaden Michael, Gerald W. Jones III, Gregory Diaz IV, Sarah Gadon, Cliff “Method Man” Smith, Shea Whigham, Coco Jones, Joel “The Kid Mero” Martinez, Chris Redd, Vladimir Caamaño, Jeremie Harris, Adam David Thompson, Judy Marte, Richard Bekins, and Zoe Saldaña

Producers: Lorne Michaels, Erin David

Runtime 1h 25min

Editor for Silver Hedgehog JJ

Images : Netflix

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This site is a non-profit project..

As a small, independent website run by Garry in his spare time,  we need your help to continue providing great content.

Please donate to help The Silver Hedgehog grow. All funds are put back into the website, and help provide new features.

Buy Me A Coffee

Buy Me a Coffee is a service that allows you to make a voluntary one-off donation in the form of a cup of coffee.

1 x coffee = £3.00

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Paetron

We have several Patreon subscription levels available, starting at £3.00 per month.

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An office worker by day and blogger by night. Garry is the creator and writer of The Silver Hedgehog.  A Sci-Fi geek (don’t mention Terry Pratchett or Isaac Asimov unless you have a spare hour) and avid film fan (noted for watching Titanic 8 times at the cinema 🤩).  Enjoys writing reviews and blogs in his spare time, and is waiting for the day he gets paid for it!

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