Brief synopsis: A teenager in the Bronx is trying to save the neighbourhood from gentrification and a shady company buying up the buildings in the area. When he discovers that the company is a front for vampires moving into the area, he and two friends are determined to save the neighbourhood.
Is it any good?: Unfortunately, no. Vampires Vs. The Bronx has a simple and promising premise that is weakly executed. The young leads are good but not great and the script is not as funny as it thinks it is. The film starts off well enough but gets poorer through its runtime. A pity.
Spoiler territory: Vivian (Sarah Gadon) goes to Becky’s (Zoe Saldaña) nail salon. She tells Becky, as she is having her nails manicured, that she is moving to the Bronx. Becky tells her that she is moving out, selling up her business that very night.
Manicure finished, Vivian is leaving as Frank (Shea Whigham) enters the salon. Frank has brought some papers for Becky to sign so as she can sell the salon. Flirty banter is exchanged as Becky signs the papers and tells Frank that he is welcome to visit her in the suburbs when she settles. He asks her if she has a husband or boyfriend. Becky says she does not. A minute later, Becky is attacked and killed by a vampire.
The next day, Miguel (Jaden Michael) is putting up posters for a block party he is organising to try and save the neighbourhood. Gloria (Imani Lewis) is filming a live vlog, telling the world about what is happening in the neighbourhood and how businesses are selling up. She notes how many disappearances there have been of late even as the neighbour is seemingly becoming more upwardly mobile.
In the local convenience store, Tony (Joel ‘The Kid Mero’ Martinez) greets Miguel and complements his block party poster. Tony is not too convinced that the party is worth the effort but he allows Miguel to put up his poster. Bobby (Gerald W. Jones III), comes to meet Miguel.
Outside the store, the two boys run into Rita (Coco Jones), who is with a couple of her friends. Rita and her friends are older than the two boys but Bobby, knowing Miguel has a crush on Rita, has told the girls that they can get them tickets for the block party.
Miguel, momentarily caught out by his friend’s ruse, eventually comes around and tells Rita that he can get her tickets. He is, he feels, looking good in front of the girls until his mother, Carmen (Judy Marte), shouts for him from their apartment window.
The two boys go to meet up with another friend, Luis (Gregory Dias IV). They notice that Becky’s nail salon has also been bought by the same company that is buying all the businesses; Murnau. The local priest, Father Jackson (Cliff ‘Method Man’ Smith), sees the boys together. He warns them to stay out of trouble.
Henny (Jeremie Harris), a local gangbang leader, drives up with his crew. He talks briefly to Bobby. Miguel asks Bobby why he was talking to Henny. Bobby tells him that Henny wanted him to do something but he refused. The three boys keep walking and run into Vivian. They think she is lost but she tells them that she just moved into the neighbourhood.
The boys move on. They see that the local courthouse has been sold to the same developers. Bobby persuades Luis to plays videos games with him at Tony’s and the two leave Miguel, who says he is going to keep putting up posters.
Still at the courthouse, Miguel sees some strange figures. He rides off quickly, turning a corner and crashing into Slim (Germar Tarrell Gardner), one of Henny’s crew, causing him to spill a drink on himself. Miguel retrieves his bike and rides off. Slim, embarrassed in front of his friends, pursues him.
Miguel turns down an alley and goes up a ramp. Slim, unable to see him, shouts a warning. Slim sees another man, Alexis (Adam David Thompson). Alexis walks towards him. Slim pulls a gun. Alexis looks at him, hypnotising him and attacks him. Alexis is a vampire. Miguel, who is watching the scene unfold between the two men, sees everything.
Miguel flees to Tony’s store. He runs into the store, frantic and telling a surprised Tony, Bobby and Luis that Slim has been killed by a vampire. Before he can explain what he has seen, Alexis comes into the store. He buys hand sanitiser and leaves. Miguel takes the others back to the alley but Slim’s body is gone.
Elsewhere, Frank is getting rid of Slim’s body for Alexis. The next day, Miguel meets up with his friends. He wants to investigate the vampires. Luis is inclined to believe him but Bobby thinks he is crazy. They go to Tony’s store and watch the film Blade, the Marvel superhero film about a being who is half-human, half-vampire and hunts vampires.
Luis gives them the lowdown on vampire rules. The boys go to the Murnau offices to try and investigate. They meet with Frank. He has one of Miguel’s block party posters. The boys feel trapped but the meeting is interrupted as Luis pretends to pass out and Vivian turns up for a meeting. Booby steals a small document bag from Frank’s office. At Bobby’s home, the boys find a flash drive in the document bag. On the drive, they find a plan for a large vampire crypt. The work out that it is the old court building. Also in the bag is a strange, black key.
They break into the building and find the vampires but Bobby’s phone wakes them up and the boys are forced to flee but not before they think they have filmed the vampires. The boys get apprehended by the police as they flee the building.
The police tell them that they are going to see Frank, to see if he wants to press charges. Miguel shows the video to locals gathered around Frank’s offices having heard about the boys being picked up.
The vampires do not show up on the video. Miguel challenges Frank to come out into the daylight, hoping to prove that vampires exist. Frank comes out of his office to meet the crowd and address Miguel. The boys are forced to give back the document bag. The boys’ parents and family come and drag them home, Frank having agreed to let the matter rest.
Frank returns to his office and get out a small box. He looks for the black key in the document bag. It has gone. An angry Carmen tells Miguel that they are going to church. Frank goes to sees Henny. He wants him and his crew to cause more disruption in the neighbourhood so as the more stubborn residence will sell. He also wants him to retrieve the key and kill the boys.
Bobby ignores Miguels calls, Luis and Miguel are forced to attend church by their respective guardians. Henny comes to recruit Bobby. At the church, Miguel plans to steal some holy water. Vivian goes to see Tony. She is looking for Miguel. When she is about to leave, Tony notices he cannot see her on the CCTV. She is a vampire. Vivian kills Tony.
Back in the church, Miguel and Luis sneak into the priest’s office to steal holy water whilst the congregation is praying. The two escape the church with the holy water but are caught by Rita. Bobby is regretting his decision to follow Henny when he finds out they are working for Frank. Henny also wants to know where Miguel and Luis are. Bobby makes an excuse and sneaks out of the bathroom window.
Miguel, Luis and Rita see Tony’s place boarded up. Bobby finds them at the store. Henny and his crew find all of the kids at the store. They escape out of the back but run into Alexis and three other vampires. They run into the street and encounter Vivian. Not knowing she is a vampire, they tell her that she is in danger.
Henny and his crew shoot Alexis and his fellow vampires. The vampires, unaffected by the bullets, kill them. Vivian takes all the kids to Carmen’s apartment. Bobby notices she cannot come into the apartment. He works out she must be a vampire as they cannot enter a place unless they are invited.
Vivian reveals to them she is a vampire and threatens to drain them like Tony unless they give her the key. Miguel throws holy water on Vivian, causing her to retreat. Vivian meets up with the other vampires and Frank. He has bought the building that Carmen lives in, so the vampires own it and no longer need an invitation to enter.
The next day, Miguel, Bobby, Luis and Rita, head to the courthouse building to kill the vampires before nightfall. In the courthouse building, they find Vivian’s sarcophagus empty. Rita leaves to get reinforcements. The others search the building and find them hanging from the ceiling in one of the upper rooms.
Miguel stakes one of them, killing him. The rest of them wake up. Bobby kills a second one. The remaining three come to attack. Vivian gets the key back, Miguel having left his backpack in the confusion. She tells them that with the contents of the box she can create more vampires. The boys escape. One of them grabs Luis. Luis gives him a sacrament wafer, killing him. Only Vivian and Alexis remain.
Frank tries to stop the boys but Bobby appeals to his human side. Vivian kills Frank. The two vampires chase the boys. Luis splits from the other two. Alexis catches up with Luis. Luis manages to kill him with his broken skateboard. Vivian catches up with the other two. She is about to kill Miguel but is confronted by the locals.
As they attack her, Vivian is easily besting them. She grabs Bobby and is about to turn him into a vampire. Miguel rides into her and stakes her through the heart. A couple of weeks later, the block party goes ahead and is a success. The crew promise to be on the lookout for any further vampires. The end.
Final thoughts: Vampires Vs. The Bronx is an intermittently okay film. With a story by Osmany Rodriguez, who also directs and a screenplay by Blaise Hemingway, the film sparkles occasionally through the script. All the usual vampire tropes are observed, bringing nothing new to the genre at all.
From the look of the film, Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer is obviously a big influence. As that is one of this reviewers favourite television shows of all time, this film was always likely to compare unfavourably to the brilliance of Buffy. And so it proves.
At only eighty-five minutes long, Vampires Vs. The Bronx is a short film but because it loses momentum and lacks urgency, with the vampire threat peripheral for much of the film, it feels longer than it should.
Gadon’s Vivian is so obviously the villain that Christmas being in December is more of a surprise. The actors do well with the material on offer but there is a definite unevenness to the script with the likes of Lewis’ Gloria and other minor characters working better, even though they are mostly just for comedic banter.
Vampires Vs. The Bronx is not terrible but perhaps would have worked better as a series, allowing the characters to grow more. Unfortunately, the film is just an okay effort that is neither horror, comedy or drama, instead a confusing mishmash of all three. One to give a miss.