The Reel Review
This horror series on HBO Max is about a veterinarian, an exiled priest and the mayor of a sleepy little town in Spain who find themselves immersed in a battle against evil after super strange and sinister things start happening to them. Think of this as a modern day, Spanish language mashup of The X Files, The Da Vinci Code and any of the many, bad exorcism films to haunt theaters in recent years.
During opening credits heavily reminiscent of the Gerard Butler action film 300, we see that the source of the drama is the stack of 30 silver coins that the Romans paid Judas to betray Jesus Christ. Sinister forces collecting the mysteriously powerful coins set their sights on the town’s heavily-bearded, tatted up priest (Eduard Fernández), who came across one during a prior, botched exorcism. They want it badly.
After an intense opening act, the first of the eight episodes kicks off with a cow giving birth to what appears to be a human baby, soon unleashing some bonkers plot twists as well as some good and some laughably bad visual effects. The story doesn’t always make sense, but it is riveting, plus there is a truly terrifying monster that looks like it crawled straight from Clive Barker’s Hellraiser films. By the second episode, 30 Coins settles into a more measured rhythm, when a teenage girl in the town disappears during a Ouija board séance, only to return from the beyond as a possessed, self-mutilating oracle of doom. It is unsettlingly good!
The story, from creator/director Álex de la Iglesias (The Day of the Beast, The Last Circus), blends cheesy telenovela and dark humor with some truly out there supernatural horror. And despite the aforementioned sloppiness in the storytelling, that odd combination, along with Megan Montaner’s committed performance as the hapless animal doctor turned demon-battling sleuth, is compelling enough to have you returning to HBO Max each Monday for the next few weeks for the latest, unpredictably entertaining episode.
• Megan Montaner (Sin Indentidad; La casa. Monteperdido) previously was a make-up artist who became interested in acting while working on a TV show.
• 30 Coins creator/director Álex de la Iglesias, an avid gamer, says he wanted the episodes, each of which has its own identity, to be savored separately, rather than binged like a paella.
• Eduard Fernández was in Pedro Almodóvar’s 2011 horror/thriller, The Skin I Live In.