HBO’s 30 Coins Series Premiere Episodes Review
*This Review Contains Full Spoilers*
Kicking the new year off on a more chilling and terrifying note, HBO brings the latest collaboration from director Alex de la Iglesia and HBO Europe, 30 Coins, to the US to introduce viewers to a unique blend of supernatural horrors.
Going into 30 Coins pretty blind to what the series exactly was but being intrigued by all of the great buzz about the series, it was surprising to see how relatively straightforward the series is. Don’t get me wrong, the story is still in its infantile stages with how these strange silver coins connect to the overall story. Obviously, based on the opening credits sequence, the coins are likely tied to the pieces of silver given to Judas in order to betray Jesus, but it’s not fully clear the power or connection they have in what we’re seeing in the series. They definitely have some type of connection to Father Vergara (Eduard Fernandez), a former exorcist that’s been exiled by the church that’s recently arrived in a remote village in Spain, and the demons that haunt him and the village, but it’s far from clear. It’s not a surprise that the answers aren’t clear yet since it’s just the first two episodes, but there’s no real direction with it yet so it’s hard to figure out the role it exactly plays. However, the coins and Father Vergara’s secrets are really just a small slice of what 30 Coins offers as the series focuses more on the horrors that are brought onto the village.
At least from the first two episodes, it seems like the series mainly focuses on the town’s newly elected mayor Paco (Miguel Angel Silvestre) and Elena (Megan Montaner), a local veterinarian with a bad reputation in the town, trying to understand what the hell is happening in their small town. Now, this scenario certainly sounds more like a bit for comedy skit rather than the premise for a dark horror series, but Iglesia makes it work with how he builds the atmosphere, story, and characters. There’s a distinct mix of dark supernatural horror with the demonic presence that threatens to destroy the town if Vergara doesn’t own up to what he apparently owes as well as a goofiness that makes the scares a little more fun. Things like the demons taunting Father Vergara about coins through the TV, a supernatural text conversation, and watching someone create a unique and oddly more horrifying version of cobwebs is actually very fun and adds to the creativity that Iglesia brings with this series. Even the overall premises of the two premiere episodes dealing with familiar premises, like a Ouija board sequence gone wrong and strange birth of an unexpected monster, are incredibly fun with how Iglesia builds up these storylines and introduces these characters.
The performances and characters match this great blend of light-hearted fun and dark horror that make them fun to watch. The relationship between Paco and Elena is incredibly fun in the first episode as they sort of lose their minds after discovering the darkness that’s consuming their village. Their bouts about Paco wanting to keep his image clean and Elena dealing with new horrors, especially the one that opens the entire series, is great and the chemistry between Silvestre and Montaner is a lot of fun.
It’s also great that their character arcs are already forming with Paco having to figure out what his image really means to him and Elena trying to get people to believe what’s happening in the village. Elena’s storyline in particular is going to be very interesting to watch unfold as she sort of embodies the horror trope of being the “crazy lady” that no one believes and it’ll be exciting to see her get out of this mold as she begins to learn about Vergara’s connection to all of this. Vergara is easily the biggest blend of this light and dark tone though as Iglesia, with the help of a strong performance from Fernandez, creates this daunting and slightly bad-ass presence with how Vergara is silently tortured by his past and has some intense boxing scenes. He’s certainly more than just your standard priest and the mystery behind him and his connections to the Judas coins is very intriguing.
However, it’s not as intriguing as the great scares and skin-crawling visuals that Iglesia brings with 30 Coins that drives home how horror fans need to check this series out. Early on, it’s not exactly clear what the horror elements of this show are going to be, but the second Elena sees a baby rapidly growing to monstrous lengths it’s like the wheels start turning and the real fun begins. While the effects can be a little hit or miss at times, the creatures and shadowy figures that this series definitely leave you with chills and are nightmarish. The entire end sequence of the premiere episode leaves you on edge and makes your stomach turn with monster that Elena faces off against and the horrific results of a Ouija possession that happens in the second episode makes you tense and cringe like crazy. This series certainly isn’t afraid to let the blood spill and will be an international delight for any horror fan.
30 Coins delivers all of the potential for an incredibly fun and strong horror series that’ll please any fans of the genre. From the strong performances to the incredible atmosphere that Iglesia builds, 30 Coins could be something special for HBO. Only a few days into 2021 and HBO is already coming out swinging with standout shows.