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What starts as a comedy about faking spooky encounters quickly transforms into a spooky encounter all its own in HBO’s new Spanish-language entry, “Los Espookys.” Created by Fred Armisen, Ana Fabrega, and Julio Torres, the half-hour original series follows a group of friends whose shared enthusiasm for horror leads them into the business of scares. That could mean convincing people a mansion is haunted or helping a priest perform a fake exorcism to show off, but it’s the details surrounding each character, their setting, and this strange story that sets “Los Espookys” apart — as well as an apropos indulgence of spine-tingling fantasy within the show’s intriguing alternate reality.
Take Renaldo (played by Bernardo Velasco). A horror and gore enthusiast, Renaldo is the group’s leader. He wants to pursue his fascination with frights full-time, be it by building a haunted birthday party for his cousin or attracting tourists with a fake sea monster. Like many characters when they’re first introduced, you don’t know much else about Renaldo: He’s clearly passionate, kind, and obsessed with this work, but instead of trying to build him out more, the writers recognize what he’s already bringing to the table and how much fun each new gig can be, so they don’t let him have any other interests. He won’t even sleep with his beautiful neighbor because he only cares about horror.
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Meanwhile, as a savvy juxtaposition, Andres (Julio Torres) has loads of other obsessions. The adopted heir to a chocolate empire, Andres wants nothing more than to learn the secrets of his past — which are denied to him via absurd, hysterical, and inventive roadblocks. (There’s a water demon trapped inside him who knows...
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