Why Paul Giamatti’s Scary Endeavor Could Change Horror Forever

Paul Giamatti’s arrival on 30 Coins could irrevocably change the terror franchise landscape. Known for deviating from the cliche tech-savvy nerd Hollywood tried to typecast him in, Giamatti veered into unknown and independent territory over his career, garnering awards and acclaim along the way.

Yet the underserved but immensely talented actor has veered into deep Catholic and Christian lore and history with his arrival at 30 Coins. Fans of the first series, an immediate hit in its native Spain, have long awaited the arrival of a sequel since filming for the follow-up series commenced back in February 2022. Giamatti’s arrival heralds a bold new chapter in 30 Coins, and we’ll break down how the amazing actor will change terror forever.

Enter Christian Barbow

Paul Giamatti in The Holdovers
Gran Via Productions

30 Coins invites horror fanatics once more back to the chasms of hell for a second season this October, with former Billions star Paul Giamatti joining the cast. Antony Root, executive VP and head of original production for WarnerMedia International and executive producer for HBO Max, was stunned by the overwhelming audience response to 30 Coins‘ first season. Noting how much horror enthusiasts adored the initial season, Max obviously couldn’t oppose a return to the dark alternate universes contained within 30 Coins. It’s a safe bet that Director Alex de la Iglesia has chosen to go bigger and bolder for a season.

As the inexplicable terror surrounding them amplifies, the remaining group of heroes from season one (minus comatose Elena and bereft and inconsolable Paco) must confront this inexplicable, enigmatic new foe (Paul Giamatti’s Christian Barbow), a character so perverse that even the devil appears frightened by him.

What power could Paul possess as Barbow that’s so deadly it kowtows Satan? Even more terrifying than the Pedraza demon? Featured heavily in the trailer for 30 Coins‘ ongoing story, Giamatti’s character’s incentives stay a riddle for horror enthusiasts to puzzle over.

Related: Best Paul Giamatti Movies, Ranked

Thunder Past Darkness

30 Coins season one banner with the cast
HBO Europe

30 Coins presented failed Father Vergara’s private struggle as a deficient exorcist and how cult members made him a target in his small town of Pedraza for the misguided attempts to bring about the apocalypse. They planned to collect the titular 30 pieces of Judas’ silver coins in order to summon Hell on Earth. The first season concluded with the ironically named Angel, his demons, and his cult Cainites temporarily stopped.

With the addition of popular Spanish actress and singer Najwa Nimri, 30 Coins continues the longstanding tradition of Dia-day-le-Muerte, instilling deep horror and overt scares. Director Alex de la Iglesia conceived the first season as the gathering storm on the horizon and the follow-up to be the deluge preceding an epic typhoon.

Father Vergara – despite sacrificing himself and perishing in a redemption-fueled, cataclysmic battle against Santoro in the prior season – by all appearances, has been ultimately corrupted. Angel has successfully escaped. Although the Cainites have been temporarily distracted, they likely will resurface. All heroes are wrapped up in harrowing schemes where extinction and revival are two sides of the same coin. Combine this overwhelming dread with the overarching theme of religious cover-up, and Paul Giamatti will surely lead 30 Coins into horror franchise history.

Related: Best Horror Cult Movies, Ranked

The Heart of the Beast

30 Coins demon Pedraza
HBO Europe

30 Coins has mystified and stilted audiences with its audacious deep dive into religious gnostic Christianity. A theme behind 30 Coins was asking questions like ‘Was Thomas actually Jesus’ twin brother?’ based upon the true name of Thomas: Thomas Didymos. According to this theory, Jesus had an identical twin in the titular author of the Gospel of Thomas.

As the word ‘Thomas’ is Hebrew for ‘twin,’ and ‘Didymos’ is Greek for twin, the implication here is that Judas and the titular 30 Coins refer to a bounty not paid for Jesus’ life but a bounty given to the Romans to keep a secret – that Thomas died on the cross. Without evidence, of course, this concept remains a much-whispered conspiracy theory.

Yet it’s worth noting the significance of this Earth-shattering, world-changing, religion-corrupting epiphany that lies at the heart of 30 Coins, a horror deeper than any demon or any cult. The terror that comes from an entire belief system falling to pieces. What if everything that everyone believed was wrong, and the price paid to keep the secret of the true death of Jesus were these 30 Coins, so easily remembered to this day?

From Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991) to House, M.D. (2004-2012), the quote involving betrayal and 30 pieces of silver to compensate somehow stays in the foreground in the cultural zeitgeist. 30 Coins opted to capitalize on this. This incredibly revolutionary idea – attacking a horror show plot from an in-depth, religious angle combined with Paul Giamatti’s gravitas – will undoubtedly change the terror landscape forever.

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