Warning: Spoilers are ahead for the ending of Vampires vs. The Bronx.
The new Netflix movie Vampires vs. The Bronx is about three teenage boys attempting to save their community from bloodsucking gentrifiers. The thing is, in this horror-comedy the hipsters taking over the neighborhood are literal bloodsuckers. Yes, vampires are buying up the real estate to make the neighborhood their new home. But in the final battle at the end of Vampires vs. The Bronx, the boys save their borough with help from a prized item from their favorite bodega: legendary home run hitter Sammy Sosa's bat.
When we first meet Miguel (Jaden Michael), known as Lil Mayor, he's handing out fliers for his block party to save their bodega. For him and his two friends, Luis (Gregory Diaz IV) and Bobby (Gerald W. Jones III), the corner shop is where they grew up and now is struggling to stay alive thanks to a recent real estate boom. The bodega's owner Tony (Joel Martinez, a.k.a. Kid Mero) can't compete with the changing neighborhood, which will soon be overrun with expensive gelato, overpriced coffee, and artisanal butter.
A new real estate firm is buying up all the authentic Bronx businesses to make room for something new. The neighborhood is ready for a change, which is why they're in such support of the construction — which also comes with a serious uptick in missing persons reports. Miguel is one of the few who wants to celebrate what makes the Bronx his home. He was practically raised by Tony and his bodega, which has a famous cat, a copy of the movie Blade (which comes in very handy!), and an iconic bat.
Early on, Tony explains why he will never sell the bat, not even to Miguel. "Bro, would you ever ask King Arthur for his sword?" he says. It isn't until later that we see how accurate Tony's description of his bat is. Like King Arthur's Excalibur defended his castle Camelot, Sammy Sosa's bat defends Miguel's court of the Boogie Down Bronx. It's not garlic, crucifixes, or holy water balloons that stop the hipster vamps, but that wooden bat.
We should have guessed that blonde hair blue-eyed Bronx transplant Valerie (Sarah Gadon) was up to no good. She's actually the scariest of them all, a wolf in sheep’s clothing — or in Vivian’s case, a vampire in Gap jeans. She, the "commander in the vampire expedition," is only pretending to care about the Bronx, like so many others who move in and transform neighborhoods under the guide that "the rent is cheap." She's really there to suck the life out of it. She wants to get rid of everything that makes the Bronx the Bronx, including that bat, which Tony joked would end up on eBay after his store got shut down.
Before losing his life to Valerie, whose non-existent reflection in his security camera gives her away, Tony tells her that Sosa is the "pride of San Pedro de Macorís" in the Dominican Republic. Sosa used that bat to hit 60 home runs in one season. A serious feat, Tony says, if you know how old baseball is. But that piece of memorabilia is also a point of pride for the only New York City borough that is majority Latinx. The bat celebrates a culture that is thriving in the Bronx, but is at risk of being erased by maple scone baking vampire gentrifiers like Val.
“I don’t want the Bronx to change," Val tells the boys. "It’s easier to live somewhere where no one cares when people disappear.” But she's wrong, Miguel and others in his community do care about their neighborhood and the people who live there enough to fight for it. Tony also cared enough to become a father figure to these young boys who needed an escape from the roughness of a borough that is too often forgotten. He showed the boys that they must show up for each other because know no one else will. And Miguel took that lesson to heart. The young boy goes all Arthurian on Val's ass turning the bat, which broke when Tony tried to defend himself against, to joust her to death.
Sosa used that bat to do something only achieved four times in history, but Miguel used it to do something that has never ever been done before. I think Tony would agree, that deserves a spot on the bodega wall.