Watched the new comedy-horror Vampires Vs The Bronx on Netflix last night! A faceless corporation, Murnau Properties (a reference to the director of Nosferatu, presumably), is buying up real estate in the Bronx on the cheap, gradually dispossessing the underprivileged black and Hispanic community, forcing them out and generally gentrifying the place, so that the real estate is then worth far more. Here, then, is the story of modern America: the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. Once we find out who’s behind Murnau Properties, we’re not surprised really: a privileged, white, parasitic elite (yes, vampires). The vampires in this movie, therefore, work on both a literal and metaphoric level – making the whole movie strangely compelling, despite its general lack of originality.
As you’ll detect from the above, there is a general satire of modern America going on. In keeping with this satirical vibe, there are a good number of visual jokes as we go, using Timberlands, mobile phones and skateboards. Indeed, this movie is authentically immersed in the modern black and Hispanic experience in the US as well as the genre of vampire fiction (Salem’s Lot, Blade, etc). It makes for a persuasive and well-informed mix.
Looked at from a female perspective, there is quite an interesting (albeit understated) debate concerning competing narratives around ‘beauty’. The Aryan white, blonde female vampire dominates the first half of the movie, but is slowly revealed as all manipulative artifice, and ugly, selfish demand, prepared to stop at nothing to win advantage over or destroy men and women alike. Zoe Saldana is actually sacrificed upon the altar of such contrived beauty in the movie’s first scene! By the end of the movie, however, the young black character of Rita (Coco Jones) wins out with a self-possessed and generous version of beauty that is ‘au naturel’, a beauty that cannot simply be owned by others (be they a vampire or the heroic male lead).
So, this film has social relevance and importance! Okay, okay, there’s a LOT of cliche, if you know the genre well. But it’s only 1hr25mins long, so not too much of a demand on your time. It gets a 7 out of 10 from me. Check it out!