Alex de la Iglesia’s rural gothic epic on HBO closes a season 1 of successes as resounding as its problems

Is It is inevitable that you will not feel a special attachment to ’30 coins’ unless you are fond of the fantastic in general and the horror of manners in particular. The series of Alex de la Iglesia, whose first season has just ended its broadcast on HBO, ends with a clear intention to continue (although the second has not yet been announced), and wanting to continue stuffing ourselves, in machine gun mode, with all kinds of references to horror movies.

From a more rational point of view, and already with the perspective of having gone beyond that start overwhelming with its very fast pace -but where they already pointed perfectly to the positive and negative aspects that the global calculation of the season would have– the whole has suffered considerable ups and downs. Some of them (especially in a final section that seems to be hastily planned) to a large extent demolishes previous finds, some carefully interwoven.

In this way, the special effects of the last two episodes, such as the very unlucky monster at the beginning of Chapter 8, tarnish the good taste that was demonstrated at the start of the season, with creatures as accomplished as the half-man, half-spider spawn. giant. Or, without going any further, with the extraordinary work of rejuvenation of the actors, a deepfake absolutely invisible and that rivals film productions billed with many more media.

In general, the feeling that remains is that if more time had been spent to polish details, or to enhance the many that already have, and that they show a devotion and a deep knowledge of the springs of the fantastic – sometimes more sophisticated and mature than that of the first De la Iglesia films, we would be facing an even better series. Nobody takes away the findings, but the feeling of “What if …?” it is accentuated in the last episodes.

Successes that keep hope

However, it is clear that Álex de la Iglesia knew how powerful the material at hand was. The proof is that the characters have remained, all of them, always interesting: the main trio has worked very well, especially the surprising Miguel Ángel Silvestre, challenging the viewer’s preconceptions. Perhaps Eduard Fernández’s priest has ended up being the most disappointing, because his crisis of faith and his eternally enigmatic behavior end up sinning in excess of contradictions. But in exchange we have had gifts like that of La Merche by Macarena Gómez, pure Spain in a female character one hundred percent De la Iglesia.

Also in the first bars we have enjoyed episodes as joyful as the one presented to Carmen Machi as the necessary protagonist of a hypothetical future horror film about the abysses of motherhood. Or that of the mirror, which manages to create bizarre supernatural and fantastic mystery with highly synthetic elements and, again, special effects halfway between what is pleasantly handmade and what is intelligently digital. And already in the second half of the way, even more functional episodes like the flashback with Vergara’s past are appropriately disturbing and ungodly.

31 coins

Unfortunately, the intrigue was losing some gas as more and more elements were added to the cocktail. Fantastic tropes such as zombies, fog of supernatural origin or the doppelgänger, which by themselves can no longer be exploited during episodes, but directly throughout entire series, here are marginal details. The result is that many of them seem to function as mere name dropping of fantastic concepts, and does not delve into them.

And that the series works when that lack of depth is merely atmospheric, like everything related to the witch -with elements as memorable as the scarecrow turned into a risen dead man, connecting with the best and most sinister of Spanish folklore- or the purely satanic -the black masses with dark hosts and psalms of inverted virtue-. Works more like a cluster of ideas, like hints to the (anti) natural than like a functional narrative machinery.

The problems come when ’30 coins’ wants to tell a story with head and feet, and makes Vergara return from Syria by car. OR adopts the structure of monster-of-the-week only when interested, resetting memories and behaviors so that the pieces of the script fit together. The final section, with absurd trips (that getaway to Paris what) or characters that go nowhere, such as Roque or the wasted Sergeant Lagunas de Pepón Nieto, do not finish curdling.

And yet In short, the series is more than a discovery: it is almost a triumph of the fantastic national television. If there are no more seasons, it will be a strange experiment full of powerful ideas (everything about the reformulation of Christ mythology is sensational). And if there are, the room for improvement is considerable. In any case, a key milestone for Spanish terrifying fictions.


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