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The New Horror Comedy That's Dominating The Netflix Charts Right Now

Looking for some thrills, chills, and laughs to spice up the spooky season? Netflix has the movie for you.

Vampires vs. the Bronx, a Netflix original feature, has crept onto the streamer's Top Ten list for movies in the U.S. The flick centers on a group of youngsters from the titular New York City borough who must repel an invasion of the bloodsucking undead.

The movie is winning over audiences and critics alike thanks to the efforts of its charming young cast — not to mention a smart, funny screenplay co-written by director Osmany "Oz" Rodriguez, a former staff writer for Saturday Night Live. (SNL creator Lorne Michaels produced Vampires vs. the Bronx as well.) Handling the bulk of scripting duties from Rodriguez's original story is Blaise Hemingway, whose previous efforts include the animated films UglyDolls and Playmobil: The Movie.

Jaden Michael, whom you may recognize from his guest roles on Blue Bloods and the Netflix series The Get Down, leads the talented young cast of Vampires vs. the Bronx.  Joining him are Gerald Jones III (Benji the Dove), Gregory Diaz IV (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), and Imani Lewis (who portrayed iconic MC Roxanne Shante in Wu-Tang: An American Saga). Speaking of that legendary Staten Island crew, the film's adult cast also includes Clifford "Method Man" Smith, who recently appeared in a recurring role on the Tracy Morgan-starring TBS comedy series The Last O.G. Also appearing are Sarah Gadon (True Detective), Joel "The Kid Mero" Martinez (Black-ish), and Zoe Saldana (Guardians of the Galaxy).

Vampires vs. the Bronx is a funny, scary good time

In Vampires vs. the Bronx, Michael stars as Miguel Martinez, whose nickname "Lil Mayor" should tell you all you need to know about his approach to life in his diverse neighborhood. He and his buddies are regular patrons at their beloved bodega, which is suddenly threatened by the incursion of several new real estate developments around town. They're the types of establishments Bronx residents aren't exactly used to seeing pop up around town: pricey coffee shops, upscale niche markets, and things of the like. But Miguel begins to notice that it's not just the shops these businesses are replacing that are vanishing — it's people, too, and some of the new residents appearing in the area look rather Transylvanian.

When Miguel attempts to organize a block party to save the bodega, he and his friends soon discover that the real estate company behind all of the new additions to their neighborhood is staffed by folks from out of town – way out of town. That's right, they're actual vampires — and of course, the kids have a tough time finding many adults who will believe them. How will the kids keep their beloved neighborhood from being overrun by bloodsuckers and nine-dollar espresso shots?

Critics are loving Vampires vs. the Bronx

Just as Netflix subscribers are flocking to Vampires vs. the Bronx, critics are heaping praise upon the film. In his review, IGN's Rafael Motamayor commended director Rodriguez for utilizing "decades of existing tropes in order to give a voice to the voiceless, and tell a story that hasn't been told before." He also described Vampires vs. the Bronx as "a fun film with a great sense of humor and identity," "the perfect way to start the Halloween season," and a "delightfully entertaining kid-friendly horror film."

Over at Gizmodo, critic Charles Pulliam-Moore let his thoughts be known up front, right in the headline: "We need more movies like Vampires vs. the Bronx." He wrote in part, "Director Osmany Rodriguez's Vampires vs. the Bronx is the sort of coming-of-age movie that there simply aren't enough of. [...] If Vampires vs. the Bronx had gotten a theatrical release, it'd be the sort of movie where you'd wander out of the cinema afterward feeling pleasantly surprised. But as a Netflix movie it's hands-down a stunner, and definitely something worth checking out the next time you're looking for something fun to space out to."

Other critics applauded the movie as "collectively charismatic," an "excellent example of a Gen Z vampire film," and a "fun, creepy, and exciting Halloween treat."

The director says Vampires vs. the Bronx has a timely message

As you may have put together, Vampires vs. the Bronx has a bit more on its mind than your average comedy-horror flick. The movie's vampires, slowly encroaching upon this diverse Bronx neighborhood and making it over in their own image, are a not-so-subtle metaphor for how gentrification can literally suck the life out of such neighborhoods in the real world. Rodriguez, who was born in the Dominican Republic, explained in a recent interview with Now Toronto that he was inspired not only by old-time monster movies, but also by the changing face of the Washington Heights neighborhood in Manhattan, which has traditionally housed a number of Dominican immigrants and their families.

"[Washington Heights is] going through changes right now," Rodriguez explained, sharing how conversations with his friends who live in that neighborhood planted the seed of the idea for Vampires vs. the Bronx. "All the conversations were similar, [about] how much the neighborhood is changing right now, and how much the identity is being sucked out. I think I just made the connection [with] vampires really quick."

Rodriguez went on to explain that the Bronx, as one of the more traditionally diverse boroughs, felt to him like "the last frontier as far as where gentrification will go." To be sure, it's a highly relevant topic. Many generations of immigrants have been priced out of their neighborhoods by the steady march of "progress" over the decades, and for many of the areas that have managed to retain their diversity and hometown feel, it's a constant struggle to keep outside forces from taking over. 

It's an issue, though, that one wouldn't exactly expect to be explored by way of a fun, hilarious, sometimes freaky film centered on precocious tweens fighting vampires. That layer of topicality is just one of the things that makes Vampires vs. the Bronx such an engaging watch. You can catch it on Netflix right now.