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30 Coins Review 2021 Tv Show Series Season Cast Crew Online
Stars: Eduard Fernández, Megan Montaner, Miguel Ángel Silvestre
Despite its title, the Spanish horror series 30 Coins is mainly just about one coin, which finds its way to the small town of Pedraza in Spain. The ancient silver piece is one of 30 that were paid to Judas for his betrayal of Jesus Christ, and a clandestine sect known as the Cainites, who worship Judas and believe they serve God by doing evil, is attempting to collect all 30. Once they do, they’ll be able to usher in some kind of reign of terror, although the exact threat remains vague for most of the eight-episode season.
The first episode opens with a shocking, violent scene of an unkillable, zombie-like attacker walking into a bank in Geneva, Switzerland, killing nearly everyone inside and taking only a single coin, while shrugging off numerous gunshot injuries. The action then downgrades to Pedraza, with occasional interludes over the next several episodes showing the Cainites collecting the remaining coins. Mostly, though, 30 Coins is about the strange happenings in sleepy Pedraza, where the hulking, heavily bearded Father Vergara (Eduard Fernández) has recently taken over as the local priest.
Vergara has been sent by the Vatican to the remote town after serving time in prison for a botched exorcism that left a young man dead. At first he tries to keep his background a secret, but that exorcism also brought Vergara into possession of one of the 30 coins, and its presence in Pedraza quickly stirs up supernatural events, starting in the first episode with a cow giving birth to what appears to be a human baby. That draws in local veterinarian Elena (Megan Montaner) and town mayor Paco (Sense8’s Miguel Ángel Silvestre), who’s expected to solve residents’ everyday problems.
The early episodes of 30 Coins follow a somewhat repetitive format, as a new supernatural incident occurs in town, prompting Elena and Paco to investigate, which leads them back to Father Vergara, who’s evasive about his involvement in the sudden surge in paranormal activity. Whether it’s the freakish baby, an Ouija board that causes a local teen to disappear, a mirror that seems to show an alternate dimension or the unexplained return of a dead resident, everything leads back to the coin, and that structure gets monotonous pretty quickly. The lengthy episodes (the premiere runs nearly 80 minutes) slow the story down so much that viewers may not stick around long enough for the plot to move forward.\
Created by cult filmmaker Alex de la Iglesia (Witching and Bitching, The Day of the Beast, The Last Circus) along with his frequent writing partner Jorge Guerricaechevarría, 30 Coins is a sprawling mess, eventually encompassing a worldwide conspiracy while also devoting substantial screen time to small-town soap opera. When Vergara heads to Rome to confront the conspiracy head-on, the show splits in two, and his immersion in a Da Vinci Code-like underground feels disconnected from the small-time troubles Elena and Paco take on back in Pedraza, along with their growing attraction.
“This is like a real soap opera,” grumbles a random bar patron in a later episode — when the characters themselves are complaining about the plot, that’s a bad sign. Montaner and Silvestre are both very attractive, but the sexual tension between Elena and Paco gets tiresome before the first episode ends, and the creators drag out the tedious love triangle between the pair and Paco’s ambitious wife Merche (Macarena Gómez), who is constantly nagging him about maintaining his political image and doing what’s best for their portfolio of businesses (including a hotel and a slaughterhouse).
De la Iglesia (who directed all eight episodes) is known for adding dark comedy to his genre films, but there’s not much explicit humor in 30 Coins, and the show takes the religious conspiracy very seriously, especially in the later episodes’ overwrought flashbacks to Vergara’s younger days. There are some decently creepy scenes spread across the season, even if the effects aren’t always quite up to the task of conveying de la Iglesia’s creative visions.
But they too often get lost within the small-town melodrama and the convoluted conspiracy narrative, which constantly acquires new twists to keep the plot going over multiple episodes. The nearly feature-length opening episode could have been a standalone movie with just a few minor adjustments, and there’s not much about 30 Coins that suggests it warrants an open-ended series.
It’s great that HBO has given de la Iglesia a major platform for his idiosyncratic style, and the grand storyline about an ancient battle between good and evil could provide opportunities for various supernatural digressions if 30 Coins continues, bringing in more of the filmmaker’s oddball interests. But this season remains bogged down in dull relationship drama and a confusing, mutating conspiracy, with only occasional flashes of the weird horror that the concept and the first episode’s opening scenes promise.
Starring Eduard Fernández, Megan Montaner, Miguel Ángel Silvestre, Macarena Gómez, Pepón Nieto and Manolo Solo, 30 Coins premieres Monday, Jan. 4 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO and streaming on HBO Max.
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