How long has it been since I reviewed a TV show? Midnight Mass just came out and I may have binged the entire thing on my little vacation away from writing. Oh well.
As always, I keep anything spoilery after my little spoiler-line so avoid going past it if you haven’t finished the series yet.
An isolated island community experiences miraculous events – and frightening omens – after the arrival of a charismatic, mysterious young priest.– Midnight Mass Netflix landing page
Directed by Mike Flanagan and starring Zach Gilford, Kate Siegel, Hamish Linklater, (the magnificent) Rahul Kohli, and Henry Thomas — Midnight Mass follows a young man, Riley, returns home to the small island community of Crockett Island and finds the town dying as its residents leave, the fishing industry fades away, and even the aging priest of the single church disappears while on pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
When a new priest arrives to manage the faith until the old one can make it back, supernatural events begin to occur — some good, and a lot of them bad. Can the Crockett Island residents figure out the mystery? Or will they be consumed by the price of said “miracles”?
I really like Flanagan’s Netflix series overall, he did the The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor, as well as one of my favourite horror movies of all time: Oculus. So I was already prepared to enjoy this show and as evidenced by my confession in the first paragraph — I liked it enough to binge it in a day. (Don’t judge me, okay?)
Flanagan does his usual approach of mixing skin-crawling horror with the themes of guilt, spirituality, and religion. While the previous series were adapted from books, this was Flanagan’s own — though it gave me distinct Stephen King vibes. I liked how Flanagan brought out all that is horrifying in the Good Book and intertwined it with a very familiar horror icon.
While the story itself is gripping, the characters seem so very real, sometimes it got a little (excuse the pun) preachy and some of the character’s monologues ran on way too long. To the point, I got out my phone and was waiting for the monologues to end. Also, a lot of times, the intensive conversations broke up big moments in the plot, effectively killing any sense of suspense.
Overall, I did still enjoy the show despite the lengthy monologues. The set, the actors, the exploration of heavier themes alongside the horror was truly, truly enjoyable!
SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER
So one thing I noticed right away was when Riley came home and went to his bedroom, there were two posters that caught my eyes right away – one of my idol Dana Scully from the X-Files and another of the movie Se7en. This made me wonder if Riley would be playing the part of the sceptic – surprise, he was — and if it was going to be heavily religious in theme – surprise, the show was.
Immediately, in regards to the dying town, the church, and the newcomer (the priest) – I got immediate King vibes. Specifically regarding Salem’s Lot, which made me wonder if Midnight Mass would also be about vampires. (No) surprise. It was.
God, I really hope no one has read this far without watching the entire series. Yikes.
Now, one specific thing I had issue with — besides the monologues — was the vampiric transformation timing in comparison between Pruitt and Riley. When Pruitt is bitten by the original vampire, on the other side of the world, he is able to come back home and be in the sun for what seems like weeks after being bitten. Finally he becomes sensitive to the sun and then has to do midnight mass.
Riley gets bitten once and that’s it. No sun for him.
It’s never explained why. It felt like a plot thing. Oh well.
I did like how, once turned into vampires, a lot of the church-goers go into a blood frenzy but it’s revealed that they don’t have to be that way. Riley’s parents have been turned and his dad explains that you can easily resist the hunger. The others just choose not to. I thought this was brilliant way to weave in more of the Biblical theme by comparing the way people can be tempted and have to resist.
If you’ve watched it through, let me know what you think!