Best friends Miguel (Jaden Michael), Bobby (Gerald Jones III), and Luis (Gregory Diaz IV) are cresting their last wave of childhood growing up in the Bronx. They roam the neighbourhood independently but aren’t yet exempt from the dreaded mother yelling something embarrassing out the window for everyone to hear. Miguel is very plugged in to his neighbourhood; everyone calls him the Little Mayor, and it’s even what his (hand-drawn) business cards say.
Miguel’s current project is saving the neighbourhood bodega – lots of local businesses have been closing up shop, and a mysterious real estate company is swiftly encroaching. White people with canvas bags are merely the first step; gentrification is next. Except these white people are paler than most, and the renovations they have in mind are even more sinister than Lululemons and Starbucks and Blow Out Bars. Having recently watched Blade without parental supervision, Miguel, Luis, and Bobby are convinced the new neighbours are vampires, but who would believe such a thing? The only ally they manage to make is a neighbourhood teenager called Rita (Coco Jones), who has the distinction of not only being the only one to believe them, but also being a bit older, a bit cooler, and a heck of a lot prettier than our original trio.
Not even Rita’s credibility is enough to convince Moms not to open their doors to new neighbours or bodega owners to close shop. How then will they save the Bronx?
Longtime segment director at SNL Osmany “Oz” Rodriguez directs and co-writes the script with Blaise Hemingway, and together they’ve come up with something rather strange and wonderful. The kid cast is charming and exceptional (special mention to Imani Lewis whose character never stops her brilliant live stream), and the adult cast is fun and unexpected.
The allegory may be told through a very, VERY thin veil, but it’s as clever as it is unmissable, putting a new twist on a very old story. It’s rated PG-13 but the violence is far less graphic than what you’ll find in Blade, the movie the kids proficiently use as a vampire bible (and their rules hold up). As a comedy-horror, it’s a little light on both, but it’s an easy and enjoyable watch for everyone, including families with older kids and tweens, who will likely tolerate it with enthusiasm.