“30 Coins” Fantastic Fest Review – Season 2 Plunges Straight into the Winding Depths of Hell

Writer/Director Álex de la Iglesia, co-writing with Jorge Guerricaechevarría, launched a unique biblical horror story in “30 Coins,” unfurling an overarching battle of good versus evil over the powerful set of silver that Judas once received in his betrayal of Jesus. By the inaugural season’s conclusion, the rural town of Pedraza was left devastated, its residents scattered or worse, and our protagonists in dire straits. “30 Coins” Season 2 hits the ground running in the first two episodes screened for critics at Fantastic Fest, plunging viewers into the deep end of Hell as it lays the groundwork for a densely packed season with apocalyptic stakes.

Season 2 picks up immediately where Season 1 ended, with the restored collection of silver scattered once more thanks to the sacrifice of rogue priest Father Vergara (Eduard Fernández). His body gets collected by a black arts practitioner who sets about prepping his body for a resurrection ritual. Cut to a year later, when we’re reintroduced to Vergara’s allies; local vet Elena (Megan Montaner) remains comatose thanks to Merche (Macarena Gómez) and Paco (Miguel Ángel Silvestre) dutifully looks after her.

The first two episodes toggle between the survivors of Pedraza’s final siege as they work to uncover the conspiracies behind it, the emerging battle between Lucifer (Manolo Santoro) and the human he fears, Christina Barber (Paul Giamatti), and Elena and Vergara’s bid to escape the harrowing bowels of Hell.

Paul Giamatti in 30 Coins

It’s the latter plot thread that provides the most intrigue and visual interest. In Alex de la Iglesia’s hands, Hell is a breathtaking Hieronymus Bosch painting brought to life to visceral effect. While Elena may rest in a vegetative state on Earth, in Hell, she’s trapped in a cage surrounded by leather-clad demons wielding sharp weapons, eager to carve out their pound of flesh. That means thrilling action-horror encounters as Vergara works to free her. The depiction of the Aristocratic rulers of Hell, its myriad of tortured souls, and the inspired demonic designs – one of the most prominent being portrayed by horror stalwart Javier Botet– helps offset the heavy weight of exposition.

The first two episodes have almost too much happening, with the spinning plates of plotting cumbersome to juggle. “30 Coins” Season 2 starts with a quick recap video to catch viewers up to speed, but the intricate mythology is so dense that it leaves a lot out. There’s no gentle easing into the continued story in Season 2; there’s far too much ground to cover in such a short order. The first two episodes make it dizzyingly clear that it will only continue to grow more expansive in scale and complex in mythology from here.

30 coins 2

With only two episodes, it’s tough to gauge how the second season will fare. De la Iglesia and Guerricaechevarría pack so much into the narrative that it’s tough to digest, but hopefully, that smoothes out from here now that the key players and their motivations have been established. But the initial episodes do make it clear that Season 2 puts the pedal to the metal, going full throttle on an increasingly precarious battle of biblical proportions. It also raises fascinating questions and a wonderfully gnarly iteration of Hell that ensures whatever journey lies ahead, fans of “30 Coins” won’t want to miss the wild ride.

The first two episodes of “30 Coins” premiered at Fantastic Fest. The eight-episode season of the acclaimed horror series, produced by HBO Europe in Spain, will air on HBO and will be available to stream on Max on October 23, 2023.

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