This Wholesome Netflix Horror Comedy Is Exactly What This Halloween Season Needs

Welcome to “What’s Good,” a weekly column where we break down what’s soothing, distracting, or just plain good in the streaming world.
Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.
What’s Good? Vampires vs The Bronx on Netflix
Who It’s Good For: If you’re into vampires like it’s the late 2000s, or if the first week of October makes you want to carve some pumpkins and break out the spooky movies, Vampires vs The Bronx is an instant Halloween classic. (Just add a spiced latte, or something less basic — pumpkin whisky, anyone?) But it’s not just a fun adventure flick to turn on if you like a good wholesome scare, it also has a timely message of the horrors of gentrification. It’s Goonies and Stranger Things meets Blindspotting and Do The Right Thing. 
How Good Is It? I’ve recommended a few films that tackle the topic of gentrification here — like The Last Black Man In San Francisco and Residue. None of them have turned the invasion of Black and Brown neighbourhoods into a sci-fi scary teen movie like Vampires vs The Bronx does. (Even though depicting greedy white developers as bloodthirsty vampires is the perfect metaphor. If you think about it, gentrification does devastate communities like the Salvatore brothers on a bender.) It’s brilliant. This movie, directed by Oz Rodriguez (Saturday Night Live), takes all the '80s kid monster movie tropes and subverts them into a cautionary tale of class warfare.
Vampires vs The Bronx follows Miguel (Jaden Michael) aka Lil Mayor, a wide-eyed teen trying to preserve the culture of his block, and specifically his favourite bodega (owned by Tony, played by one-half of the Bodega Boys, Joel “The Kid Mero” Martinez from Desus & Mero, who is expertly stunt cast here). Miguel is posting flyers all over the Bronx for a fundraising block party, next to the missing-persons posters that are popping up more and more as vampires ravage the streets. Miguel and his best buddies Bobby (Gerald W. Jones III) and Luis (Gregory Diaz IV) end up being our trio of heroes. Aside from being adorable, their chemistry is as good as their vampire-slaying skills. It’s not just the boys repping for this borough in peril, though. They’re joined by Miguel’s crush Rita (Coco Jones) who brings much-needed vampire-hunting knowledge since the guys only know what they learned from watching Blade (a nice touch to have these kids of colour looking to the first Black Marvel superhero for tips). The scenestealer has to be Gloria (Imani Lewis), a budding influencer whose vlogging of the hood’s happenings serve as a hysterical narration throughout the film.
Canadian Sarah Gadon shines as a seemingly innocent Karen who moves into the neighbourhood blissfully unaware of how much her presence makes the Bronx residents nervous. Solid cameos from Zoë Saldana and Method Man (as a priest!) round out the supporting cast. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter that there are cliché moments in Vampires vs The Bronx because its twist on the genre is so unique and its charming cast is so good, you’ll forgive any small banalities. This movie’s nostalgic vibe will take you back to a simpler time while its urgent message will make you (and the young people in your life) think about the very real gentrification issues plaguing our neighbourhoods in real time.
Things that are also good:
• Emily In Paris has a lead who is a boring wet rag of a human, and even though the series is very pretty, it is also pretty bad — I also couldn’t stop watching it
• Megan Thee Stallion’s stunning SNL performance
• Trickster on CBC Gem (premiering Oct. 7) is the Indigenous representation Canadian primetime TV has been waiting for. Plus, it’s just a great teen sci-fi drama
• Demi Lovato’s new breakup ballad may have come under sad circumstances, but it’s the tear-jerking fall-out-of love song Lovato is best at 
• Let Michelle Buteau: Welcome to Buteaupia give you the guttural laughs we all need
• Defunding the police

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