Synopsis: A group of friends band together to save their neighborhood from vampires.
This is a film about the evils of gentrification and how it can suck the life out of an area. The vampires are a metaphor for this. There is also a deftly weaved in the subplot about the dangers of gang violence. The story focuses on three young black kids; Miguel, (Jaden Michael) Bobby (Gerald Jones III) and Luis (Gregory Diaz IV). Miguel is attempting to save the Bodega from being torn down. The boys’ first encounter with Vivian, (Sarah Gadon) shows the insidiousness of gentrification. She ultimately turns out to be the main antagonist. I found it interesting how Miguel instantly code switches when he runs into Vivian.
Furthermore, the fun and humour of growing up in the Bronx are portrayed really well through the lads’ interactions with Tony (Joel “The Kid Mero” Martinez) and the girl that Miguel has a crush on. Additionally, Henny’s grooming of Bobby to join his gang also shows the dangers of the Bronx. It’s chilling how quickly Henny becomes cruel towards Bobby as soon as he is in. The vampires look and act like your typical movie bloodsuckers. I liked the metaphor of Vivian as a white woman with a canvas bag representing gentrification in its purest form. The moment where Bobby reaches Frank Polidori and convinces him that the vampires are using him was one of my favourite moments from this film. The film’s climax in which the Bronx’s residents band together and take down Vivian after she calls their home a “shithole” was excellent.
When Miguel watches a video of Tony on his phone after Vivian has killed him, and when Bobby says that nobody would care that Slim (Germar Tarrell Gardner) died because he was from the Bronx were very affecting. When Bobby’s mother (Heather Alicia Simms) seemed to accept gentrification as a fact of life was poignant also. This possibly shows a generation gap between herself and her son. I enjoyed Father Jackson (Cliff “Method Man” Smith) especially when he brained Vivian with a sceptre during the final climactic battle. The threat from the vampires is well set up and developed throughout. I liked how sustained the danger from the bloodsuckers was. I personally thought their ability to fly however was a little silly. The Bronx is saved at the end of the film and there’s a massive party at the Bodega. I thought the memorial graffiti of Tony was a really nice touch. I really liked Gloria’s (Imani Lewis) sign off at the end and her video updates throughout the film.
Jaden Michael is a likable main character who plays off Gerald W. Jones III’s Bobby and Gregory Diaz IV’s Luis well. Gerald W. Jones III does a good job of showing Bobby’s disbelief in the vampire threat, as well as his indecision between his friends and Henny’s gang. Jones III gets a great scene with Shea Whigham’s Polidori in which he convinces him to turn his back on the vampires. Gregory Diaz IV was good as the bookish kid; I liked the running gag of him having low blood sugar and thought he rounded out the main trio nicely. Jeremie Harris played the two sides of Henny well, showing his false kindness and then viciousness towards Bobby. Cliff “Method Man” Smith was brilliant as the muscular Christian Father Jackson, taking absolutely zero shit from the main characters or anyone. Joel “The Kid Mero” Martinez was great as the boys’ friend and mentor, providing a good contrast to Henny when he told Miguel to listen to his mother. Imani Lewis was entertaining all the way through this film and I loved when she broke the fourth wall at the very end. Sarah Gadon showed Vivian’s faux affability and horribleness excellently, and Shea Whigham portrayed Polidori’s smarm and sliminess, and eventual heel face turn very well.
The soundtrack to this film is consistently brilliant all the way through. When Miguel’s mum (Carmen Martinez) tells Miguel off for having nasty underwear the song used is great and adds to that moment, and the score used when the vampires talk together is fantastic and provides a great contrast with the more urban hip hop themes for the good guys’ scenes. I loved the music that played when Miguel and Luis stole the holy water from the church as well as the track that played when the kids tooled up to go and fight the vampires. There was a great creepy theme used when the boys were inside the vampires’ nest which really made me feel that they had gone off the map and were amongst monsters.
The CGI in this film was good although there wasn’t much of it. The way the vampires burned to dust when staked was reminiscent of Buffy, as well as the vampire prosthetics which would have looked at home in a Buffy episode.
The black community is really well represented here, as well as this being a brilliant and entertaining film with a great message. It was fun and cool as well as affecting and scary. I think anyone of any age can enjoy this film and take something away from it. This is a fun movie that’s perfect for Halloween when you’re feeling sad or tired.
- Incidental Music10