MIDNIGHT MASS is the latest from Mike Flanagan, the man who brought us both THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE and THE HAUNTING OF BLY MANOR, as well as DOCTOR SLEEP. I consider myself an incredibly big Flanagan fan, loving all of the previously mentioned works – yes, even BLY MANOR. Suck it, haters! And you can now add MIDNIGHT MASS to that same list.
The show is a smart indictment on the idea of religious fanaticism at a time that we need to call it out the most. While we try to remain politically agnostic here in Spoiler Free Reviews, it’s hard to talk about a stellar work of art like this, and not call out that horrible things are being done in the name of religion every day. Just take a look at the anti-abortion policies and bounty hunting being done in Texas today. The fact that people are using the name of God to justify the harm we do to one another, without so much as realizing the irony in what they’re preaching is precisely what this limited series is about. And it’s so on-point and necessary to discuss themes like this in a time where people intentionally blind themselves to proven science in the name of religion (and for the record I’m a Catholic, and I still very much agree with everything said in this limited series!). And let’s be honest, this is not a new thing to humanity. It’s just been something at the forefront of our discussions more heavily in the last six years.
The way MIDNIGHT MASS approaches these themes through horror is brilliant. And you see and understand why his fictional subject matter lends itself perfectly to those themes as soon as it starts to reveal itself through the narrative. Blend his passion and eye for horror with some beautiful conversations about humanity, death, life, faith, and redemption, and you have something of a real masterpiece. This may be Flanagan’s most profound work to date, with long stretches of dialogue heavy scenes where characters wax poetic about what happens after death or what the meaning of life or interpretations of religion should be. While that may or may not strain some people’s attention spans, it always felt fascinating and at times beautiful for myself. Part of that is fully attributed to the show’s astonishing cast, lead by a powerfully charismatic performance from Hamish Linklater, and supported by fantastic turns from Kate Siegel, Zach Gilford, Rahul Kohli, Annabeth Gish, and Flanagan staples Henry Thomas and Alex Essoe.
I’ll say that it does take 1-2 episodes of table setting to get going. But after the third episode, everything just picks up and grabs you without letting go. The final episode, while fantastic, does suffer a small amount from too many false endings. But it’s still on the whole a really insightful, well acted, and sometimes even fun original horror tale. Is it as scary as the HAUNTING series? No. But it doesn’t need to be because it’s just as emotional and, perhaps, even more intelligent.
With that, this Flanagan-Fan can officially say that Flanagan has done it again!
MIDNIGHT MASS is now available to stream on Netflix!