Friday, June 14, 2019

REVIEW: 'Los Espookys' - Renaldo Rallies His Friends to Help Create a Horror-Based Business in 'El Exorcismo'

HBO's Los Espookys - Episode 1.01 "El Exorcismo"

Renaldo enlists his three best friends - Andres, Ursula and Tati - to create a business based on conjuring thrills and chills for a variety of clients. After a meeting with Father Francesco, the group agrees to orchestrate a staged exorcism that will elevate him above the hot new priest. To ensure maximum promotion, the team enlists the help of Renaldo's uncle, Tico, a legendary LA parking valet. Basking in the media afterglow, the group entertains a new offer and decides on a name for their enterprise: Los Espookys.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the series premiere of HBO's Los Espookys.

"El Exorcismo" was written by Fred Armisen, Ana Fabrega & Julio Torres and directed by Fernando Frias

This is such a delightful premiere. One doesn't have to be a fan of horror in order to enjoy it either. Instead, it finds story and humor from the action of creating horror. Renaldo and his friends are big fans of the genre. They are very skilled at creating the effects that can trick the world into believing that they are real too. As such, it quickly becomes a business for them. That's impressive. The show never wants the viewer to feel worried that this won't be enough to sustain their lives either. Renaldo has this idea, gets immediate support from his friends and has his first client. The local priest wants to stage an exorcism so that he can be the shining star of his parish once more. He no longer wants to be ignored in favor of the new hot priest who doesn't understand the rules of the orphanage. Plus, the central exorcism manages to strike the perfect balance of obviously being fake but also being convincing enough that something spooky could actually be going on. It's clear to the audience because we are seeing all of the actions going on behind the scenes. Andres directs his friends through the event to ensure it is terrifying enough without going over-the-top. The group allows the priest to shine even though he isn't really doing anything. There is nothing supernatural going on here. And yet, it breaks out as this major story. It's all because the friends catch a couple of big breaks. At first, it seems as if this will just be a minor story that could impress some people at the local church. That's all that the priest actually wants. He wants the respect of his parish once more. But an opportunity arises that allows Renaldo to use his Uncle Tico to deliver a message to the anchor of the local news. That too is such a strange and unusual subplot. Tico is an amusing character because his greatest skill and career ambition was to park cars. He is living his dream in America. He manages to impress people while still being easily gullible. When he arrives at his niece's quinceañera, he truly believes that her cake has gone bad. When he opens up a package, he honestly believes that it's his nephew's severed head in there. That would be the genuine reaction from anyone in that situation. Renaldo didn't place the note explaining it all in a convenient place. But it doesn't disrupt the plan at all. It all continues to work out. Tico gets the message to the local anchor, who seems like a robot. She is directed where to go and what to do at all times. She is effective at her job. But chasing the story and delivering the news is really the only thing that literally gives her life. That should be an amusing running joke throughout the season as Los Espookys continue to stage events in the hopes of making this a profitable venture. Some of them don't even need this either. Andres is the heir to a chocolate business empire. His boyfriend sees all of this as a major distraction. Meanwhile, Tati presents as the girl who is game for anything even though it could place her in harm's ways. The eccentricities of this world could easily become overbearing at some point. Right now though, the balance is absolutely perfect. This is a business venture that Renaldo, Ursula, Andres and Tati excel at. They help the priest get exactly what he wants. And then, they are recommended for another job. That will probably be the focus for the next episode. They get their name for the business. It's a unifying moment that proves that all of this may continue to be a great experience for all of them. It certainly is for the audience as we delight in the oddness but the specificity of this world.