The Frog Brothers’ street cred echoes way uptown as Netflix offers up its after-hours, after-school Halloween special treat: Vampires vs. The Bronx. Think of it as Get Out for tweens as the real bloodsuckers in this Bronx tale are the real estate developers looking to gentrify the Concourse. They even dress like landed gentry. “The Murnau guys are chewing up the neighborhood,” street proud Miguel (Jaden Michael) warns his crew. The Murnau real estate firm doesn’t even try to hide it, they have a Vlad the Impaler face on their logo.
Miguel is known as Lil Mayor in the reluctantly transitional neighborhood. He is on a mission to save Tony’s bodega, where he basically grew up. He is the de facto leader of a gang which consists of his two best friends. Bobby (Gerald W. Jones III) just got kicked out of school for fighting, and the local priest is keeping a watchful eye on him. The son of a slain OG, a Concourse gang is also checking him out while cruising for recruits. Bobby turns down a job at the beginning of the episode. Luis (Gregory Diaz IV), or as Slim calls him “Puerto Rican Harry Potter,” is the horror geek with all the answers. Just in from Tampa, after three months of enforced Disneyfication apparently, he is the odd one out, and expresses it in an almost-Shakespearean/Neil Simon soliloquy. It’s enough to put hair on your legs.
Gloria (Imani Lewis) provides running commentary throughout via her video blog, GloTV. “Have you noticed those missing kids’ posters,” she asks over too many emojis. “Construction was supposed to be good for the neighborhood.” We get to know, and like, the kids on the block very fast. Lil Mayor, on a bike two sizes too big for him, is out saving the neighborhood and the people give him props for that. He also gets free snacks and sodas. Well, they’re on his tab, which he swears he’s going to pay back. It just feels like he will, but even if he doesn’t, he’s working it off ahead of time. The rest of the gang is super positive, on the sweet and down low.
Even the gangbangers are polite and shit. Expressing displeasure with the vintage fashions of their undead interlopers with a more muted “I didn’t say I liked them” retort than a loud slam of trash talk. Almost all the characters, even the minor ones, get in a wisecrack. But Bobby gets in the best understated punch line: “Not what I thought you’d say.” It doesn’t seem like much on the page, but after the suspense of the building, it is an absolutely killer line. Even the vampire commander’s personal familiar Frank Polidori (Shea Whigham) projects a cool understated wit. While locking the vampire hunters in the Murnau offices he notes how daylight can be murder. Frank might be a descendant of John William Polidori, who submitted the short story “The Vampyre” to an exclusive 1819 contest with poets Mary Shelley, Lord Byron, and Percy Shelley. He lost to the novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus.