Warning: This review contains slight spoilers for “Midnight Mass.”
If you’re a horror fan like I am, you may have heard of “Midnight Mass.” This short, but incredibly dense binge was created by Mike Flanagan (known for “The Haunting of Hill House” and “The Haunting of Bly Manor”). Just like his previous work, “Midnight Mass” proves to be more insightful than scary— that is, if you can bear the tears.
The show takes place on the small island of Crockett, where everyone knows everyone. You get your standard archetypes, but what makes this show so special is the depth of these characters. You care for each and every one of them— even the ones you can’t help but hate. The basic plot follows Riley Finn (Zach Gilford), a man wrecked from guilt returning home, and a new priest named Father Paul, played perfectly by Hamish Linklater, standing in as a temporary replacement for the town’s original priest, Monsignor Pruitt.
Religion plays an integral role in the story. Much of it has been pulled from Flanagan’s own life experiences as an altar boy. The idea of losing faith was explored in a way I found fascinating. Sure, the show has faced numerous complaints about its overuse of monologues, but if you can get past their disruption to the pacing, the discussions on religion were thought-provoking in a way I didn’t expect from a horror show. Our reliance on religion is tested as the idea that God has a plan for everyone is reevaluated.
Going back to Father Paul, he plays an essential role in the story, taking up a good portion of the runtime with his extremely entertaining sermons. Hamish Linklater gives the role 110%, and without that energy, I don’t think this role would have worked. He can be heroic and villainous. Likable, but unlikeable at the same time. Both the screenplay and Linklater’s performance help portray these nuances.
Someone truly villainous in this series is Bev Keane, played by Samantha Sloyan. I hadn’t seen her before, except for a few minor features in some of Flanagan’s past work. I truly hope Sloyan gets more leading roles after this. It takes a lot of talent to play someone so evil, and yet so interesting. Bev represents the dark side of religion, and how some manipulate it to encourage blind faith.
The women of this show truly get a chance to shine, having some of the best scenes and character journeys. Kate Siegel, as always, is absolutely amazing in her role as Erin Greene, the central protagonist. Sure— her character may not be the most innovative, but the beauty of Erin’s story lies in its subtlety. Her monologue about death, specifically, is a standout. There are so many more performances I could discuss (like Sherriff Hassan, played wonderfully by Rahul Abburi). Every actor is at the top of their game to bring this story to life, and I could go on a ramble praising them.
Overall, “Midnight Mass” made me think and left me startled in the process (did I mention this show has vampires?). With an explosive ending, it’s not easy on your emotions, and chances are, you will definitely leave each episode feeling drained, perhaps upset— yet satisfied. This show certainly isn’t boring once you get into it, and even if the thought of starting it scares you, the story will soon hold you in a tight grip and never let go. You can watch “Midnight Mass” now on Netflix.