Midnight Mass TV Review


Plot: From The Haunting of Hill House creator Mike Flanagan, Midnight Mass tells the tale of a small, isolated island community whose existing divisions are amplified by the return of a disgraced young man (Zach Gilford) and the arrival of a charismatic priest (Hamish Linklater). When Father Paul’s appearance on Crockett Island coincides with unexplained and seemingly miraculous events, a renewed religious fervor takes hold of the community – but do these miracles come at a price?

Review: Mike Flanagan’s pair of Netflix series to date, The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor, we big hits with fans in very different ways. Both adapted timeless ghost stories in completely original ways, telling tales of family, grief, romance, and loss. While Bly Manor was more gothic than the horror of Hill House, fans were still entranced by the puzzle box unraveled over the course of the series. As Midnight Mass begins, you may be tempted to call it The Haunting of Crockett Island, but there is a major distinction between this series and Flanagan’s previous ones. Sure, they share some ensemble cast, but this is a very different story.

Like Hill House, Mike Flanagan directed all seven episodes of Midnight Mass and shares a writing credit on every chapter. While this is certainly a story rooted in the supernatural, like Bly Manor it is not so much horror or scary as it is frightening and disturbing (in the best way possible). Early in the first episodes, I figured out multiple twists revealed through the series. You may think that made this story easy to figure out, but Flanagan didn’t hide these in a Shyamalan-esque effort to pull one over on the audience. Through each episode, I continued to figure out where Midnight Mass was headed only to find it take a sharp curve along the path. The writing here is very strong and anchored by an investment in developing over a dozen characters that you as a viewer will begin to truly care about.

There are echoes of Stephen King throughout this entire series. Midnight Mass is set on the isolated Crockett Island which has a distinct New England feel to it reminiscent of King works ranging from Salem’s Lot to Dolores Claiborne and even his mini-series Storm of the Century. As you can tell from the trailer, something unsettling comes to the island along with a stranger, Father Paul (Hamish Linklater), who arrives at the same time as Riley Flynn (Zach Gilford). Riley, a recovering alcoholic paroled after a terrible accident, reconnects with the one place he never wanted to return to and becomes central to what comes next. What comes next is virtually impossible to explain here without spoiling the plot of Midnight Mass. I can safely tell you that this is a story you have never seen before about a sub-genre that you have seen countless times. Is it a cult? Is it demons? Is it ghosts? I won’t tell you but trust me when I say that by the end of the series, it all comes together.

The cast of Midnight Mass features a blend of familiar faces and new ones. From Hill House, we have Henry Thomas, Kate Siegel, and Robert Longstreet as well as Bly Manor‘s Rahul Abburi and Alex Essoe. Newcomers include Kristin Lehman, Annabeth Gish, Michael Trucco, Matt Biedel, and Samantha Sloyan. Sloyan portrays Bev Keane, a devout Christian who becomes a character that fans will love to despise. Flanagan quickly introduces us to the citizens, most of whom are parishioners at St. Patrick’s on the island. It is from that jumping-off point that faith becomes the central conflict for how these characters align themselves as the evil lurking around the corner reveals itself.

This is also a story that would never have worked as a feature film. I come back to Stephen King time and again when I think about Midnight Mass because his sprawling novels focused so heavily on building communities where every single character, pop culture reference, and song lyric contributed to the story as a whole. The production values here show that Netflix trusts Flanagan implicitly after his work on both The Haunting series as well as Gerald’s Game. Midnight Mass looks as good as Doctor Sleep but is far more vast of a story. Each episode is titled after a book in the Bible and connects back to themes in the scripture. But, I would still recommend consuming this series as a single work. The episodes work together to form a seven-hour tale that is the best Stephen King novel that he never wrote.

Midnight Mass made me deeply uncomfortable and that is an absolute kudos to Mike Flanagan and his crew. This is a story that evolves via a slow burn into a final act that kept me shaking my head in disbelief. I did not want to see what happens to these people come to be as I had become invested in them over the course of these seven episodes. Many of you may find yourselves frustrated with the slow burn of the first few episodes but I hope you stick with it. By the end of the seventh episode, Midnight Mass rewrites a sub-genre that I thought had been exhausted of original ideas. More than being a scary story, this series is a haunting reflection of the excesses of religion as well as addiction and will leave you, like the denizens of this island, wanting more.

Midnight Mass premieres on September 24th on Netflix.

Midnight Mass



Source: JoBlo.com

About the Author

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Alex Maidy has been a JoBlo.com editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. A Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic and a member of Chicago Indie Critics, Alex has been JoBlo.com's primary TV critic and ran columns including Top Ten and The UnPopular Opinion. When not riling up fans with his hot takes, Alex is an avid reader and aspiring novelist.