By JOSHUA “Prometheus” SCAFIDI
Starring Jaden Michael, Gerald Jones III, Gregory Diaz IV
Directed by Osmany Rodriguez
Written by Osmany Rodriguez and Blaze Hemingway
Save the Bodega…
VAMPIRES VS THE BRONX is making some noise this week, and for good reason. The film is funny, light-hearted, and brings on some modern-day Lost Boys vibes – while remaining unique enough to stand on its own. Light spoilers may follow, nothing major.
The story centers around a group of young friends growing up in the Bronx (Jaden Michael, Gerald Jones III, and Gregory Diaz IV), who are trying to raise money to save their neighborhood bodega from gentrification by throwing a block-party. The kids discover that a shady real-estate company by the name of Murnau has recently popped up in town and is the one buying up all the local businesses. When one of the boys discovers the company’s horrific secret, no one believes him (at first). Now it’s up to these three unlikely heroes to save the day, their neighborhood bodega, and the Bronx – possibly, the entire world, and their only training revolves around a copy of Blade on DVD!
The concept is simple and self-contained. It doesn’t get lost trying to tell too many side-stories, which leads to good pacing throughout the film. The three main kids are the heart and soul and provide strong performances throughout most of the eighty-five-minute run-time.
Jaden Michael is our lead man as Miguel Rodriguez, and he carries a lot of the film, but not alone. His two co-stars do a lot of the heavy lifting. Gerald Jones III plays Miguel’s semi-troubled friend Bobby Carter, who is walking the line between staying a kid or joining with some gangsters from the neighborhood. Gregory Diaz IV is Luis Acosta, the somewhat nerdy and paranoid comic relief of the crew, who at one point, is hilariously compared to a Puerto-Rican version of Harry Potter. The comparison is spot-on.
The supporting cast isn’t the strongest, but I loved Joel Martinez as Tony, the bodega owner and part-time mentor to our main protagonists. His character felt genuine, and I know a few real-life Tony’s where I’m from; I’m willing to bet you will, too. I also really liked Sarah Gadon’s performance as Vivian, and although saying any more could be considered a spoiler, she was definitely a great edition to the cast.
This isn’t exactly the type of film that’ll make you sleep with the lights on, but it does pack plenty of entertainment and for the most part serves as a great option for a family-friendly, spooky movie night. There are a few parts that might be a bit violent for some – but nothing over the top, or aggressively gory. Light scares, with some humor peppered in, along with a powerful sense of community for good measure.
I don’t think VAMPIRES VS THE BRONX will achieve the cult status that The Lost Boys has found over the years, but it’s a fun little vampire tale that certainly deserves a watch. Average kids uniting the neighborhood against some night-crawling bloodsuckers…What’s not to like? (Shout out to the kid on the bench reading Salem’s Lot, I see you!)
Broadway Video Cavier’s VAMPIRES VS THE BRONX stars Jaden Michael, Gerald Jones III, and Gregory Diaz IV, and was written and directed by Osmany Rodriguez with a screenplay from Blaze Hemingway. Method Man plays the principal and Zoe Saldana makes a cameo as well. Available now on Netflix.