The Bronx, like Queens, is sacred land in New York City. As such, it must be protected and, in the eyes of Emmy-award-winning writer and director Oz Rodriguez (Last Man on Earth, Mixed-ish), that’s a task fit for a young squadron of teens.
“I wanted to tell a NYC story set in a community of working-class immigrants and POC,” Rodriguez tells Remezcla. “A lot of my Dominican friends living in Washington Heights had similar stories about the neighborhood changing and gentrifying. The Bronx is the last frontier in that sense. It has to be protected from the vampires.” Literally and figuratively.
A first look at the film, set to debut on Netflix Oct. 2, shows a group of lads and local adult heroes go from trying to save the neighborhood through an innocent block party to fighting vampires and “thugs” over Lee Richardson, Jonathan Murill, and Tom Ford’s “Yo Ando Poistivo” in the background. With laughter-provoking moments and plenty to entertain the eye, the upcoming film is set to be a feel-good, thought-provoking watch. Though it runs the risk of oozing cheesiness, the trailer gives off a balanced feel and includes a couple of familiar faces like proud Bronxite Joel “The Kid Mero” Martinez.
The film also stars Zoe Saldaña, Jaden Michael, Gerald W. Jones III, Gregory Diaz IV, Sarah Gadon, Cliff “Method Man” Smith, Shea Whigham, Coco Jones, Chris Redd, Vladimir Caamaño, Jeremie Harris, Adam David Thompson, Judy Marte and Richard Bekins.
“Y’all know how this starts. Them white people with canvas bags? That’s always the first sign,” one of the teens says. Though it’s hard to put a label on it, Rodriguez calls this “an adventure film first.”
“I wanted to make a fun movie that could be enjoyed by all ages. Something that could make you laugh and then scare you from one scene to the next,” he explains.
Distilled of outsiders and true to its brand, City Island bustled with locals this weekend in the BX. Despite the pandemic, folds of endless characters sat there with stories that could surely fill scripts for days. Should it come to it, I hope a group of valiant Brown and Black kids like this holds it down.
Here’s an exclusive first look at Netflix’s latest: