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REVIEW: ’30 COINS’ sets the bar high for horror television in 2021

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LATIN HORROR Spain’s wildly popular and critically acclaimed original 8-part horror paranormal series ‘30 Coins‘ has made its way to American screens.

30 Coins or 30 Monedas as it’s known overseas, is the first television show from Álex de la Iglesia to come to America. De la Iglesia is one of the most influential directors of contemporary Spanish horror. He is best known for the horror-comedies ‘The Day of the Beast‘ and ‘Witching & Bitching‘.

Each episode of 30 Coins is directed by de la Iglesia, and co-written by de la Igelsia and Jorge Guerricaechevarría. Guerricaechevarría is a frequent collaborator with de la Iglesia, also co-writing ‘The Day of the Beast‘ and ‘Witching & Bitching‘. 

Carmen Machi, Miguel Ángel Silvestre, and Megan Montaner in ’30 Coins’ (2020)

Within a very brief seconds of the first episode of 30 Coins, “Cobwebs”, starts with a bang in Geneva, Switzerland. Leaving viewers caught off guard, but intrigued by why this ancient Roman coin is so highly sought after. 

The title sequence is a gothic melodrama interpretation of the crucifixion of Christ, including Juda’s betrayal and his suicide. When the coins of Judas are spilled, they appear to be similar to the coin seem in Geneva, insinuating a connection between the two.

Elena (Megan Montaner) in ’30 Coins’ (2020)

Then, 30 Coins focuses on the sleepy small village in Spain, which will become the main focus of the program. The regular lives of everyone are turned upside down, when a routine cow in labor at a farm, gives birth to a healthy human infant. The strange birth is witnessed by the town veterinarian Elena (Megan Montaner). She asks for help from the mayor Paco (Miguel Ángel Silvestre), and the village’s new priest, Father Vergara (Eduard Fernández). 

“Whoever has the 30 coins, will have in their possession a weapon more powerful than the very Arch of the Covenant”

As Elena and Paco seek answers for the strange birth, they stumble on to the deep evil force from Father Vergara’s past, from which he was desperately trying to protect them from. An evil which seeks to steal the Roman coin in Father Vergara’s possession, which is one of the coins of Judas’ 30 coins. Father Vergara warns that “Whoever has the 30 coins, will have in their possession a weapon more powerful than the very Arch of the Covenant”.

Mixing horror, Catholic mythology, and multiple intertwining novela style stories, 30 Coins creates a unique edge of your seat experience. Though each of the episodes could be a standalone horror story, they form a series of unbelievable paranormal activates, all revolving around Judas’ 30 coins. 

‘La Caja de Cristal’ 30 Coins (2020)

The cinematography by Pablo Rosso ([Rec] and [REC] 4: Apocalypse) highlights its diverse sets around the world, especially the exterior of the small village. It captures both the beauty of natural sunlight and the hidden terrors of the night. The kills and monsters in 30 Coins are distinctive, with kill weapons varying from knitting needles to holy relics. While the use of CGI special effects helps to elevate the eeriness of the supernatural elements of 30 Coins, they sometime can come off as cartoonish. For example, certain blood splatters from a kill, looking as though they are video game graphics. 

Some audiences might be turned off by the use of English subtitles, with the characters speaking in primarily Spanish, with supplementary other non-English languages. However, the use of the native languages gives the series a more authentic and realistic feel.

30 Coins is a unique breath of fresh air in horror television, with its stylized use of cloak and dagger elements, with non-stop paranormal suspense. It sets the bar high for horror television of 2021.

30 Coins is now on HBO Monday nights at 6 PM EST/9 PM PST, with reruns. All episodes after initial airing are available on HBO Max.  


30 Coins

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Justina Bonilla
Justina is a Mexican-American freelance writer and journalist based in Orange County, CA. She has written for a number of publications. Currently, she is also a contributing writer for Latin Heat Entertainment. In her spare time, she volunteers as a film blog writer for the non-profit arthouse cinema, The Frida Cinema, in Santa Ana, CA. Her areas of expertise include retro pop-culture (film, music, and television), Golden Age of Hollywood, cult-films, classic horror films, Latino American cinema, Latin horror films, and the history of American rock ‘n’ roll.

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