Midnight Mass is the latest creation from Mike Flanagan, the talented director/creator who brought us The Haunting of Hill House, Doctor Sleep, and Absentia. Flanagan’s attention to detail makes Midnight Mass an engrossing series that benefits from repeated viewings. His works creep up on you over time; moving from good to spectacular. Midnight Mass is an intricate, gorgeously shot series with crafty dialogue, beguiling characters, and chills in time for the best season.
When a young priest arrives in their small island town, residents experience miracles and ominous occurrences. Flanagan brought us a tight story with some chilling moments. Trust me, try watching certain scenes at bedtime with the lights off. You can tell Mike Flanagan’s a fan of Stephen King as there are many Kingesque moments, including the questions surrounding religion and faith. As such, the horror in Flanagan’s works, even Absentia, takes a back seat to characters and relationships. The chilling elements are a bonus.
Midnight Mass: Stunning Visuals, Deft Directing & Brilliant Story
Flanagan is magnificent at using space to create a mood; fear, anxiety, dread. One of the shining examples is during Father Paul and Riley’s AA meeting. It transitions between over-the-shoulder shots to individual, off-center shots as their conversation becomes contentious. There is all this empty, untapped space to their left. Midnight Mass would have nowhere near the tension without a skilled director helming each scene. Flanagan’s shows are as at home in a theater as on a television screen, and Midnight Mass is no exception. Your mind may drift for a fraction of a second; taken aback by how striking each shot in Midnight Mass is. It all shrieks, “here be horrors…and beauty.”
We are introduced to Crockett Island through Riley Flynn (Zach Gilford) who has just been released from prison. Thanks to his past, he has emerged an agnostic and is one of the few who questions the supposed miracles. It’s fascinating that many people find religion in jail; however, for Riley it was the opposite. He went in a man of faith and exited unsure. The story is similar to a lot of Stephen King ones like The Mist.
When miracles happen on the island, few islanders question them, instead citing blessings from God. Unsurprising, given the economic hardships Crockett Island residents suffered. Their faith allows them to survive. Midnight Mass looks at the same dangers of religious fervor and the blind allegiance we give those in power. A message’s reliability rests on our trust in the sender, and faith is a tightrope where imbalance has detrimental consequences. This story could be a metaphor for how people view people and aspects of their world; presidents, parents, or priests.
Dialogue & Characters Leave You Shadow Boxing
The dialogue left me nodding one moment and cursing the next. These characters pull emotions out of the viewer, and there’s no shortage of fascinating characters. Father Paul is charismatic, and although I am not a fan of sermons, I was attentive every time he spoke. Hamish Linklater’s voice and delivery is unparalleled. Another with great dialogue is Bev Keane (Samantha Sloyan), a walking manifestation of passive-aggression. She will make you want to push her through a wall. I hated Bev Keane so much—Samantha Sloyan is masterful in that role—that I loved it. I was screaming and ranting at the screen.
Other beloved cast from The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor is in this—no wonder with Mike Flanagan behind the camera. Kate Siegel, Robert Longstreet, Henry Thomas, and Rahul Kohli each shine in their roles. Though for me, it’s a tossup between the two characters Sheriff Hassan (Rahul Kohli) and Joe Collie (Robert Longstreet). Joe and Leeza’s (Annarah Cymone) scene is so raw it almost left me sobbing.
The only disappointment was Annabeth Gish’s character. Given who she is, her underdeveloped character made her queer identity feel like a diversity checkmark because it’s never touched on again. Her date, played by Camille Atebe, has no name in the show because she didn’t need one to serve her purpose.
Midnight Mass: A Must See
Midnight Mass is phenomenal; everything works to mold a stunning series. Yet, it is not my favorite from Flanagan. His creations are that good that I can wax poetic about this series but still love his other works more. Reminiscent of King and Rod Serling; especially “The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street.” Midnight Mass shows the most terrifying monster we can imagine; ourselves. When we allow petty resentments and religious zeal to become the entirety of our identity, horror follows. The best takeaway from Midnight Mass is the lesson that not everyone who saves you is a savior. You have to read the fine print.