I’m not usually a fan of horror comedies; they’re very hard to get right, for if you have too much funny, the horror is not believable, and if you have too much horror, the comedy gets soured, especially if the film resorts to horror jokes that are in bad taste. As such, I tend to enjoy films that are either pure comedies or pure horror films, that might have comedic or horrific elements sprinkled in but don’t overwhelm the piece.
2020’s “Vampires vs. the Bronx” is one of those rare films that works as a horror-comedy. Taking place presumably in the pre-COVID Bronx, the film focuses on teenaged friends Miguel Martinez (Jaden Michael), the leader/main character kid; Luis Acosta (Gregory Diaz IV) as the nerd kid; and Bobby Carter (Gerald W. Jones III), who has a sketchy relationship with local gangster, Henny (Jeremie Harris).
Like many neighborhoods in New York City, theirs faces high rents and gentrification, and they are determined to throw a block party to save a local bodega that has been their childhood meeting place and whose owner, Tony (Joel Martinez), has been like a father figure to them. They run into a bunch of shady figures at Morneau Properties, a shady real estate company that has been buying up all the buildings on their block whose logo is literally a picture of Vlad Tepes, the inspiration for Dracula. And they’re all vampires. They’ve come to the Bronx because it’s a place “no one cares” if people disappear. The boys find themselves not only in a battle for their block, but their lives.
I think it was smart to use kids as the protagonists. Without it, I’m not sure if this film would’ve worked as a horror-comedy. Adolescents often have over the top reactions to normal occurrences growing up, and Director Oz Rodriguez uses them as a conduit to portray comedy without taking away from the serious circumstances of the film to the point.
But the film doesn’t take itself too seriously, and while a few characters die — one who is very major — this film is no Oscar-worthy drama that portrays faithfully the complex adolescent trauma that would accompany the film’s events. “Vampires vs. The Bronx” is a simple, yet fun, popcorn movie you can turn your brain off to and enjoy — perfect for the Halloween season. And that’s all it needs to be.
“Vampires vs. The Bronx” gets a 6.5/10