‘Los Espookys’ On HBO Offers A Fresh Take On Horror Comedy
As the world works to move on from Game of Thrones, HBO has been working overtime to offer shows to keep people from hitting that unsubscribe button. That includes making programs that can hit a variety of different audiences. You got Chernobyl for history buffs, Big Little Lies for those who love soap operas that pretend that they aren’t and Watchmen for the nerds. Los Espookys, HBO’s new comedy, is for people that love the weird and are not afraid of subtitles. If you like the oddball comedy of shows like Portlandia and know who Siouxsie and The Banshees are, then this show if for you.
Even though the show is technically produced by Lorne Michaels of Saturday Night Live, the show is almost entirely in Spanish. The show incorporates a bunch of staples of Latin Culture from television to traditions. The show sets up its tone immediately by opening on a horror themed quincenera full of skeletons, bodies and a cake decorated with intestines. We learn the party was set up by our heroes, Renaldo, Andres and Ursula. The three of them are professional horror nerds and they take on jobs that allow them too make spooky things. If you need a severed head delivered or a fake exorcism to be staged, then they are the crew you call.
Renaldo is kind of the leader by default since he appears to have the most free time. Andres is the adopted heir to a powerful chocolate company and his boyfriend cannot understand why he wastes his time on doing elaborate spook shows. Ursula is a dental assistant who has to fit in her hobby while making actual dentures at the same time. The three of them are not in it for money but just because they love being around the dark and morbid. Along the way they also take on a fourth member, Tati, who just likes being around people who aren’t put off by her random answers to everything. They are outcasts that happened to find each other at the right time and are just trying to find ways to keep celebrating what they love.
What they don’t realize is that their antics have put them on the radar to actual darker forces. After successfully staging an exorcism for a news program, they receive a call from a mysterious woman who offers them a new job. She tells them that people are being invited to a haunted house and must stay they night to win money. The crew assume that they are being hired to make effects to scare people, but the show hints that they are the actual victims of real ghosts.
Even though it helps to speak Spanish to get some of the jokes regarding accents and phrasing, the show is way more than that. The writing is very funny and the actors sell a lot of the jokes. Julio Torres is a stand out as Andres who can be funny just be ominously staring down another character. A running gag comes from him constantly having to remind people who mysterious he is since he is adopted and his friends have to continually tell him to stop. Ana Fabrega’s Tati also has several funny moments from how to works multiple odd jobs at once, including being paid to walk in other people’s shows in order to break them in or operate a manual fan for a priest. A lot of the humor comes from how side characters reacts to the team. Co creator Fred Armisen shows up as Renaldo’s uncle and the greatest valet in Los Angeles. His upbeat and agreeable nature makes for fun moments as he delivers a severed head to a fancy Hollywood party just so he can talk to a pretty tv anchor. The jokes are constant but are also very dry which puts the tone very in line with Portlandia. At least so far in the show the effects are intentionally low fidelity and adds extra charm for those who love old school horror movies.
Overall the show holds a lot of promise thanks to the oddball cast. Hopefully as the series goes on it can maintain its humor and not get bogged down in trying to be too scary. So far the balance is good and it would be fun seeing these characters end up in over their heads. It is not appointment TV the way that something like Game of Thrones ever was, but it is good enough to keep me from unsubscribing from HBO for a little while longer.