Here’s a slice of vampire-vamping Spanish Manchego that may be a little late to the whole “Vampire movies are silly” parade. But give the cast and crew of “Hollyblood” props for taking their best shots, which land almost often enough to make this quick and sometimes funny farce worth recommending.
Javi, played by Óscar Casas, is the prototypical “new kid in school” who crushes on Sara (Isa Montalbán), so much so that he stalks her online where her obsession with vampires finds an outlet. Javi catfishes her as “Lidia,” “just to get to know her.” Sure.
His Dad (Jordi Sánchez) misunderstands his boy’s shyness and online alter ego enough to think “You play for the other team,” in Spanish or dubbed into English. He’s a Eugene Levy in “American Pie” dad — over-sharing, over-compensating but tolerant, if not exactly tactful.
“Next year, we’ll sign on a float for the gay pride parade!”
At school, the possessive bully Manu (Mateo Medina) is determined to scare Javi off “my girl” with threats. Sara’s bestie, wheelchair-bound Carmen (Lara Boedo) is something of a badass, out to “protect” her friend from Manu and any other guy who might “hurt” her.
When Javi stalks Sara to the premiere of the new “Hollyblood” movie, an amusing and over-the-top shirtless “Twilight” knockoff , and then “saves” her from scaffolding about to fall on her, she is convinced HE is a vampire. Perhaps now she’ll remember his name, something she gets wrong every time they strike up a conversation.
As Sara was expecting to meet another online catfisher, the legendary teen vampire Azrael (Piero Mendez), Mr. Chalamet-Cheekbones, you can see how she’d confuse Javi for a real bloodsucker.
There’s nothing for it but for Javi to don contacts and lots of RPatts makeup and make the illusion real for her. Wonder how long it’ll take Carmen or supposedly-smart and hip yet still-gullible-enough-to believe in vampires Sara to find him out?
Meanwhile, oafish Diego (Carlos Suárez), their classmate with a youtube channel where he can pose as an aspiring vampire hunter, one whose mother keeps misplacing his holly stakes sharpener — “Remember, if I’m murdered, it’ll be my MOM’s fault!” — is on the case, looking for the “real” Azrael, willing to test his stakes out on Javi.
It’s all a lark, and large stretches of this goof of a movie play, even if not everything is all that funny. The father-son shtick is cute but dated, the Diego stumbling towards the truth segments are a bit of a laugh.
The script’s set-ups and punchlines and too much of the problem solving — how Javi “sells” this illusion — feels like clumsy afterthoughts.
But several characters harbor “secrets” that are funny revelations. Diego’s way of clearing out the theater at the Madrid premiere of “Hollyblood” is clever. And everybody on board keeps with the spirit of the thing, taking it no more seriously than is absolutely necessary.
Brief, brisk comedies like this are often filmed at a sprint, and if you’re lucky, that shows up on screen. One way that reveals itself here is a hilariously obvious mid-chest crescent moon tattoo our “gullible” but worldly Sara has, and then doesn’t have. It disappears for one scene, and comes back between her cleavage the next, over and over, one of the funniest continuity errors I’ve seen in years.
“Hollyblood” doesn’t hold a lot that’s novel or new for adults, but it’s Netflix edgy enough for the teen audience, a demographic Netflix spends a lot of money on entertaining.
Rating: TV-MA, violence, sex and sexual orientation jokes, mild profanity
Cast: Óscar Casas, Isa Montalbán, Jordi Sánchez, Carlos Suárez, Lara Boedo, Piero Mendez, Mateo Medina and Amparo Fernández.
Credits: Directed by Jesús Font, scripted José Pérez Quintero. A Netflix release.
Running time: 1:29