Episode 1 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 2 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 3 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 4 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 5 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 6 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 7 – | Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 8 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
In this day and age, it’s incredibly rare to find a genuinely unnerving and scary horror series. Aside from the odd rare gem like The Haunting of Hill House, The Exorcist or even Twin Peaks, very few shows manage to nail and sustain a growing sense of dread. From its stunning opening scene to the suitably bombastic climax, 30 Coins manages to achieve just that, delivering a creepy, suspenseful and incredibly atmospheric show that’s sure to please horror aficionados.
The story here blends elements of alt-history akin to that seen in Dan Brown novels with a creepy underbelly of inexplicable, supernatural phenomena. The opening scene to 30 Coins is arguably one of the best in recent memory and really sets the scene for the show to follow. Within this, a mysterious figure walks into a bank and steals a coin from a safety deposit box.
Shrugging off bullets from incredulous guards and hitting them with a barrage of his own, he steps inside a black car and hands over the coin to a shadowy priest.
This coin is part of a series of 30, which various priests from the Vatican are trying to collect for reasons that become clearer across the season. One of the final pieces happen to be inside a walled Spanish town called Pedraza. It’s here we catch up with Mayor Paco, who takes a shining to new girl Elena. Only, this causes friction in his own relationship with Merche. As this bubbling love triangle simmers in the background, Paco and Elena find themselves caught in the middle of a spooky, supernatural series of events that become more urgent and terrifying as the show continues.
From giant spider-like creatures to magic mirrors and toxic fog, 30 Coins blends an awful lot of different ideas and influences together but somehow never loses sight of its main conflict. In fact, that conflict is never more potent than that seen with the tormented priest, Manuel Vergara. His character easily steals the limelight here, especially as it becomes clear that he’s an integral figurehead to what’s happening.
Haunted by memories of the past, Vergara finds himself thrown headfirst into this spiraling nightmare and realizes that this coin hunt comes from a familiar face in his past.
Stylistically, 30 Coins blends a lot of creepy CGI elements with practical effects while peppering in some thought provoking ideas about religion and faith to keep things interesting. In fact, those final two points are probably the more fascinating concepts here, as Manuel finds his faith tested in more ways than one.
Toward the end of the series, the action moves away from Pedraza to a few different areas across the globe and it’s here where 30 Coins is actually at its strongest, giving a sense of depth and space that feels like a global conflict rather than rooted to a single area.
It helps too that the characters are all well written and have enough quirks and interesting subplots to make their journey satisfying to watch. The only thing that isn’t so satisfying however is the ending, which leaves many things unexplained in the hope that this will be renewed for a second season. At the moment that’s still a big unknown but given what we’ve received across these 8 episodes, this is one of those rare examples where a cliffhanger ending actually doesn’t dampen the experience too much.
Given how rare it seems to be nowadays to find a compelling and well written horror series, 30 Coins is certainly one of the better offerings in the genre and a fine series in its own right. The alt-history ideas mesh surprisingly well into the main storyline, with some satisfying explanations to why certain events are occurring and how.
30 Coins never loses sight of its main conflict though and even when things become bombastic and chaotic toward the end, there’s always a sense of uneasy dread clinging to the show. It’s not without its flaws, but this is easily in the running for one of the best horror shows of 2021.