Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Hollyblood – review

Director: Jesús Font

Release date: 2022

Contains spoilers

I had just got to the end of this Spanish film on the day of its Netflix release when I got a message off Simon Bacon asking if I’d watched it yet and what I thought. I think it was best summed up as I found it really cute.

Of course such a summary is not good enough for a review on TMtV and I will go into a little bit more depth but what we have is a teen focused horror comedy that puts across several genre nods in its run time but is primarily gently spoofing the teen girl/vampire phenomena.

feeding Frizz blood

It starts back in the 80s and a young lad, Frizz (Piero Mendez), who is on a(n obviously Catholic) school corridor when he is grabbed by three bullies and dragged to a pool. They throw him in and then are holding his head under but the attack goes to far and he drowns. Above them there is a black shadow with glowing red eyes that attacks them (off screen – though we see one spattered with the blood of a friend). Once dead we see a wrinkled arm extended, the wrist opened and blood go into Fizz’ mouth – he reawakens as a vampire. The opening felt like it had an homage aspect to Let the Right One In.

Isa Montalbán as Sara

We then get an animated sequence, with graphics made to look like stained glass, that explains about the vampire Azrael, a creature that has walked among man for millennia pulling the strings behind nations. The voiceover is by Sara (Isa Montalbán) who we then meet chatting to online friend Lidia about Azrael and vampires in a Hollyblood chat room. Hollyblood is a teen vampire/werewolf romance that riffs on Twilight. Lidia is not the girl Sara thinks she is, however.

Óscar Casas as Javi

Javi (Óscar Casas) is a fairly new lad in her school and has a crush on her and he has created the Lidia persona to talk to her (and, yes, the creepiness of the situation is raised through the film). Javi’s dad, Fernando (Jordi Sánchez), calls him for dinner and assumes Javi has been looking at porn. He sneaks a look at the laptop, sees the Lidia persona and graphics of the topless, overly ripped Hollyblood actors and thinks Javi is gay. Also active online, and in the same class as Sara and Javi, is Diego (Carlos Suárez), he has a YouTube channel that he uses to present himself as a self-styled vampire hunter.

a scene from Hollyblood

Anyway, through the film the three interact in various ways and also active within the interactions are Manu (Mateo Medina), who is the class bully but has a thing for Sara (and sees her as his property even though they aren’t together), and Carmen (Lara Boedo), Sara’s best school friend who has a crush on her too. Azrael, Sara reveals, has contacted her and will meet her at the Hollyblood premier. Also at the premier are Diego, hunting for Azrael, and Javi, hoping to tell Sara how he feels. Frizz is also there, as he has been posing as Azrael and intends to meet Sara. We see a couple of scenes of Hollyblood and it really does riff Twilight but in a way that is mildly amusing and doesn’t rely on aggressive misogyny or homophobia as many riffs of the film do.

Carlos Suárez as Diego

Things conspire to have Sara almost crushed by a sign and Javi saves her by leaping in and stopping the falling sign, but it is way too heavy and he is successful because there is a chain that impedes its fall also. Sara, however, decides he is a vampire and rather than come clean he takes on that persona for her. This, again, is a bit creepy of him and potentially harmful, especially when we learn of the reason for her vampire obsession. Frizz becomes an active player in the on-running drama, Diego decides Javi is a target and there is the actual Azrael out there somewhere also.

Javi acting as a vampire

I said at the head that this was cute and it was. It had a genuine gentle humour and, despite the fact that there was a stalkerish aspect (Javi taking on personas to get the girl can only be read negatively as manipulation and Frizz regularly uses actually being a vampire to get girls) the characters came across more as flawed, with much to learn about life and respect, than actually unpleasant. Isa Montalbán played the central role with a natural air that really worked and there was some genuine chemistry with Óscar Casas especially during a dance moment that needs a special shout out for the inspired soundtrack choice of Los Lobos’ Kiko and the Lavender Moon.

fangs on show

There is some confusing lore within the film as Javi makes a lot up. However, we do see a vampire as smoke, we see holy water burn (and the blessing of the pool at the end used an interesting methodology) and Frizz certainly wears shades and a hoody during the day (though whether there was sunscreen involved – as Javi suggests – or the sun was a hindrance more than deadly is not properly explored). We do see a shapeshift into another human form and the use of lust as a hypnotic focal point. If a vampire is killed, those turned by it become human again and this is generational, so that those turned by the one who becomes human also become human.

vampire hunting

There are other genre nods, and we can see some of the use of the pool as being like Fright Night 2: New Blood as well as the aforementioned Let the Right One In, the use of a blank in a gun was straight out of Vampire’s Kiss and Diego felt a tad like the Frog Brothers in the Lost Boys. At the end of the day, as I said, I found this one genuinely cute. 7 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.


Jeff R said...

Not as much of a horror film as "Fright Night 2,"
and I would throw in "Liar, Liar, Vampire" as a
similar film. I thought the inclusion of a real
vampire in this one was well done and actually
made sense in the way the story ended up being

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Good call on Liar, Liar, Vampire - though this is a better film Jeff.I appreciate the stop by and comment, thanks.