Midnight Mass takes place on Crockett Island, a run-down, fishing area that continually grows smaller since it was affected by an oil spill that caused most of its residents to leave. Riley Flynn (Zach Gilford) is released from prison and moves back home to Crockett. A new priest, Father Paul (Hamish Linklater) takes over from their aging parishioner. Quickly after the new priest arrives, miracles begin to occur on the island, which ignite a revived fervor of faith amount the islanders.
Mike Flanagan, creator of The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor, delivers again with this series. Flanagan has quickly become a staple in the horror genre. Again like in most of Flanagan’s works, Midnight Mass delves past surface level horror and explores the human condition.
The show raises a magnifying glass to religion, namely Catholicism. Religion has always been a sensitive topic, so this show will definitely not be for everyone. But that’s not to say Midnight Mass condemns Catholicism or anything along those lines. The series is simply aims to highlight the danger of having a warped sense of faith and shows how easy it is to exclude or “other” the people that do not share your religion or beliefs. The “miracles” that Father Paul performs are not done through holy means and contain a more sinister edge, though he does not see that.
There are multiple reveals that take place throughout the show that are incredibly well-placed and keep you engaged. More of the mystery is unveiled with each episode. The show does start off a bit slow, but it takes it time to world build, which really benefitted the story. Crockett Island and its residents felt like a real place and like real people to me.
The series is also incredibly well acted. Richard Linklater is the definite standout as Father Paul, but I was also really impressed with the rest of the cast. You can’t help but hate the ever self-righteous Bev Keane (Samantha Sloyan). Along with Riley, other islander outcasts such as Erin Greene (Kate Siegel) and Sheriff Hassan (Rahul Kohli) deliver some much needed rationality humanity to the show.
Some viewers may be turned off by the many monologues delivered by the characters, but I highly enjoyed them. In particular, there are two conversations revolving the aged old question, “What do you think happens when you die?”, that are so well thought out, well-written, and well-articulated, that both conversations made me emotional.
Midnight Mass might just be my favorite Flanagan work. I can’t delve too much into the plot as I feel it will spoil too much. But I would suggest going in as blind as possible with this series. I know the series came out of nowhere for me, all I heard was there was a new series from Mike Flanagan coming out a few days before its Netflix premiere date and I was sold.
Overall, Midnight Mass is an engaging, character-driven horror series. There aren’t scares jumping out of every frame, but the scares come from the story itself. The series takes a great deal of time developing its characters, setting, and themes. I’m still reeling from the show and it’s been almost a week since I’ve finished it. Midnight Mass is honestly the best show I’ve seen so far this year and I cannot wait to see what Flanagan serves up next.
I give Midnight Mass an A.