Grinchmas 2023 · Horror · Horrorthon365 · Microreview · Television

Grinchmas 2023: ‘30 Monedas/30 Coins’ Is an Epic Takedown of Christianity and its Myriad Cults

As a horror fan well-versed in the genre, it takes a lot of creativity to surprise me. But surprise me Alex de la Iglesias has done with his bonkers HBO show ‘30 Monedas/30 Coins,’ which has me shouting, “WHAT THE FUCK?!” every few minutes of every single episode. I speak Spanish fluently, so the fact I’m not exclaiming this en español also speaks to how constantly knocked out of my shoes I am by this fascinating take on the horror of religion.

The very first episode opens with an elderly man walking through Geneva’s downtown with purpose, on the exact same walk I have taken hundreds of times from my years working there. The park with a steeple sculpture he passes in the opening shot is even where I used to eat my lunch and read on lunch or other breaks in town. And the bank the man eventually goes into across the bridge into Old Town is the bank where, once upon a time, I had an account for the human rights NGO I tried to get off the ground. They might have filmed on a sound stage, but that’s exactly what that particular bank looks like on the inside. All gold and high ceilings and staircases everywhere. Chills City, dude. Thank gods for trauma therapy because the man goes on a shooting spree, and that would have set off PTSD in a bad way for me a few years ago. Now I watch with a curious detachment as an event I was so terrified would happen to me in Geneva (and anywhere I’ve lived) actually unfolds. Surreal.

From the jump I knew this show would speak to me specifically, and now toward the end of its second season it continues to resonate. And blow my mind.

The first season of ‘30 Monedas’ uncovers the demonic secrets of a Catholic sect who believe actively committing acts of evil are part of God’s plan. And to effect the worst evils the world has ever seen, a faction of the Vatican called the Cainites seeks Judas’ 30 cursed coins in order to amass their powers of magic and destruction. And so much more, centering on the small Spanish Pueblo of Pedraza en Segovia.

With Cainites still in play, the second season introduces a new group of evilmongers, the Baphomists — who are Scientologists in all but name, led by a gazillionaire who writes science fiction in his spare time.

All of this is so deliciously blasphemous, my recovering Catholic heart absolutely leaps with joy to watch these “sacred” notions deconstructed into the horrors they actually are. ‘30 Monedas’ feels like a spiritual relative of Mike Flanagan’s ‘Midnight Mass,’ and I live for both of them.

Overflowing with horror and other pop-culture references, as well as history and literature, this is truly a narrative tailor made for nerds who love hunting for Easter eggs. My favorite references include: Dracula 2000. He Never Died. Constantine. Hable Con Ella (Talk to Her). Lord of the Rings. Alice Through the Looking Glass. The Thing. The Omen. Lovecraft. Labyrinth. Hellraiser. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. The Exorcist. Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Alien. And even The NEVERENDING STORY! It’s spectacular. If I brushed up on my Spanish horror, I’d have so much more to add to this list.

Visually stunning, compelling performances from a wonderful ensemble crew, and nonstop revelations (pun intended) make ‘30 Monedas’ a thrilling narrative feat. Having it air directly after HBO’s 3-episode documentary ‘Love Has Won: The Cult of Mother God’ was scheduling poetry. This added a level of reality to ‘30 Monedas’ that would otherwise be absent. The message that cults are fundamentally evil is vital at this moment in history.

With all this heavy text and subtext, the moments of comedic levity particularly in 30 Monedas’ second season are just amazing and perfectly placed. So unexpected and so welcome. In a word this show is brilliant.

✨Brujería/5 stars. Do not recommend to anyone highly religious and easily offended.✨

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Zuzu Zombie’s #Horrorthon365 project is a collection of eclectic genre watchlists with accompanying microreviews to suit the changing seasons. Horrorthon365 was sparked by a gnarly hand injury and carpal tunnel surgery gone awry, hence the flash-style reviews. After a wicked fall at home and brutal elbow fracture that required surgery, posts will be sporadic until I’m healed. In the meantime, browse the entire collection here