(Welcome to The Quarantine Stream, a series where the /Film team shares what they’ve been watching while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.)
The Series: 30 Coins
Where You Can Stream It: HBO Max
The Pitch: An over-the-top phantasmagory of body horror, religious horror, and cosmic horror, 30 Coins follows a disgraced exorcist who is banished to a small town in Spain. Once there, all sorts of spooky shit starts happening, and the priest is forced to join up with a curious veterinarian and a surprisingly ripped mayor to combat the forces of evil.
Why It’s Essential Quarantine Viewing: Vulgar, scary, endlessly entertaining, and more than a touch sacrilegious, 30 Coins is like 30 different horror movies packed into one series. So if you’re craving new horror, here’s the show you’ve been looking for.
30 Coins wants you to know it’s not pulling its punches right from the jump. The first episode kicks-off with a blood-soaked bank robbery that gives way to a glorious opening credits sequence depicting the crucifixion of Jesus. And this isn’t some water-downed Easter pageant crucifixion, oh no. This is more akin to Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ, but even more lurid – slow-motion blood goes flying off of the gore-soaked Jesus as Roman soldiers cackle below. At one point, Judas, Jesus’ pal who sold him out, shows up at the base of the cross and the dying Christ grins down at him with bloody teeth. Understandably perturbed, Judas runs off and hangs himself – the 30 pieces of silver he sold his Lord out for dropping to the ground at his feet. At this point, we cut back to the Roman soldiers who now all have pale white, pupil-free eyes as they silently scream. And remember: all of this is happening during the opening credits of the show. We haven’t even gotten to the real action yet.
If you were hoping for a breather after those credits, you’re out of luck, because from there, 30 Coins cuts to a scene where a cow gives birth to a human baby in a small Spanish village. Elena (Megan Montaner), the local vet on hand who was expecting to help birth a calf, is understandably shocked – as is Paco (Miguel Ángel Silvestre), the mayor of the village who also just happens to be surprisingly jacked – this guy never skips chest day, or arm day, or leg day, or…well, you get the picture.
The locals who witness the birth think some sort of supernatural fuckery is at play, so they all run off to Father Vergara (Eduard Fernández), the priest who just moved to town. And how does 30 Coins introduce this priest? Why, it shows him beating the shit out of a well-worn heavy bag, his muscular arms gleaming with sweat, of course. But now you’ve probably guessed that subtlety isn’t in 30 Coins‘ vocabulary. I should also mention that Father Vergara has a secret arsenal room in his church loaded with guns mounted to the wall like he’s The Punisher, because of course he does.
As the show unfolds, Elena, Pacio, and Father Vergara are forced to work together to deal with all sorts of supernatural shenanigans that are plaguing the area. The happenings are related to an exorcism Father Vergara performed a while back – an exorcism that resulted in the death of the guy who was supposed to be exorcised. The forces of evil are chasing after those 30 pieces of silver that Judas dropped during the opening credits, and Father Vergara just happens to have one on hand. And while it’s clear all of this mayhem would stop if the humans would just give the demons their damn coins, our heroes remain stubborn – probably because if they just gave in we wouldn’t have a show.
Hyper-stylized and loaded with moments that seem meticulously crafted to shred your nerves, 30 Coins, which comes from creator Álex de la Iglesia, director of The Last Circus and Witching & Bitching, isn’t messing around. Slow-burn, low-key horror is often great, but every once in a while, I get a craving for the type of horror 30 Coins is offering – bloody, silly, and oh so fun. And if you’re still not sold on this show after all of this, perhaps this will seal the deal: remember that baby? The one the cow gives birth to? What if I told you it mutates into a giant spider-baby-monster? What else is there to say?
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Author: Chris Evangelista
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January 20, 2021