This is the quickest I’ve watched any of the Mike Flanagan Netflix shows. It took me almost a year to watch The Haunting of Hill House and I’ve still not watched any of Bly Manor. It isn’t because I don’t like the shows, Hill House is one of my favorite shows that Netflix has put out. It really just boils down to how Netflix is made to binge, and I just don’t do that much anymore. I like to let things marinate and think about what I watch. Which means by the time I finish what I watch the discourse has already ended so I just put it off. I kind of let myself do that by taking a few days to watch Midnight Mass, while still watching it slightly quicker than I would have normally. I’m really glad that I watched this because I honestly think it blows Hill House out of the water.
Midnight Mass was directed by Mike Flanagan. It was written by Flanagan as well as Elan Gale, Jeff Howard, and Dani Parker. It stars the usual Flanagan players which includes Kate Siegel, Annabeth Gish, Henry Thomas, and Rahul Kohli while also adding others like Hamish Linklater, Zach Gilford, and Igby Rigney. I wasn’t all that familiar with Zach Gilford before this. I had seen him in Friday Night Lights a little bit but had seen him in The Purge: Anarchy. I was blown away by his performance and can see why he’s already been cast in the next Flanagan project. I also really want to mention Rahul Kohli’s performance. I had never seen him in anything, but I have been a follower of his on social media for a while. His performance is something else. He makes the most of his time on screen. I really only knew Hamish Linklater from being Matthew in The New Adventures of Old Christine so seeing him in this was something completely different, and he excelled in his role.
The following sections will contain spoilers throughout.
Midnight Mass opens with an auto accident and a death. Riley Flynn is sent to jail for 4 years. He goes back to his hometown, which is on an island. His return also coincides with a new priest coming to town. You learn more about the priest as the series goes along. Riley is struggling with being home and the strained relationship with his parents, especially his dad. Riley has to go to AA meetings as part of his parole, which he does at first by going to the mainland then by doing it on the island run by the priest. It turns out to be just Father Paul and Riley at first, but eventually the local drunk Joe Collie comes and starts making progress even though he still struggles with the urge to drink. Riley and Joe offer support for each other, with Joe revealing things about himself. Joe goes to visit Father Paul but is killed and his blood is drunk by Father Paul. This leads to Father Paul lying to Riley, with Riley only knowing because of the connection that he made with Joe. This leads to Riley being attacked by a winged figure while Father Paul prays. Riley is turned into a vampire, which is what happened to Father Paul who is really the old Monsignor. He was restored to a younger age and only became a vampire after dying. Riley decides to show his old paramour Erin Greene what happened to him, after being missing for the day. Riley dies on a boat in the middle of the water after telling Erin what happened to him. Father Paul decides to change everyone on Easter Sunday mass. He is helped along by Bev Keane as well as the mayor, his wife, and the local mechanic. I think that’s what Sturge is. After cutting the power to the island, knocking out the cell tower, and disabling the boats they get everyone to go to the church for mass. Poison is served and some people drink it, which kickstarts the process of being resurrected as a vampire. The sheriff’s son takes the poison after a scuffle, which leads to a bedlam in the church. Erin Greene, Sheriff Hassan, Annie Flynn, Warren Flynn, Dr. Sarah Gunning, and Leeza are able to escape the church. The entire island ends up being burned by either the newly vampiric Bev Keane or the remaining humans. Warren and Leeza take a canoe to the middle of the ocean. Sheriff Hassan, Dr. Gunning, and Erin all end up being killed while the sun rises killing the vampires.
I really want to talk about Bev Keane. I grew up in a town filled with people like her. Thinking that they can pick and choose which passages of scripture fit what they need at the time whenever they want. They also pass judgement on anyone that believe different than they do. If you try to bring anything up the contradicts what they say they change the subject and ignore whatever it is. They also claim to be open to differing views but will put down whatever it is that they don’t agree with wholeheartedly. They also are racist, sometimes veiled but mostly they let their prejudice be shown freely. If you say anything about it they deny it and call into question if you’re attacking him for their Christianity.
I also really liked how they portrayed Sheriff Hassan. In my limited study of other religions, I found that Islam is one of the most open to other religions. Rahul Kohli’s performance is done with a lot of care. This is the most respect that I’ve seen Islam given and I don’t think I can appreciate it enough. I like for everything to be shown the proper respect.
I also want to bring up the care that is shown for recovery and how hard it can be for people. I feel safe saying this because as far as I can tell not many people I know read these posts but I actually struggled with drinking for about a year. It started when my grandma died, I started drinking really heavily when she died because I wasn’t really sure how else to process it. I struggled with it about a year and a half. I never let it take control of my life, but I drank more than I really needed to. I still drink but it’s a once every few months thing rather than drinking every day like it was then.
The creature design for the “Angel” is really striking. I’m not sure of how much of it was done using practical or computer effects. I know that the actual body was done practically and some of the wing stuff was done with CG. I’m just not sure the percentage of the two. The effects done on the eyes after people are changed really good and offer a subtle change. The way the vampires view the world is really beautiful while the way they view people is really interesting.
Midnight Mass is a show that people can watch for many different reasons. There’s so much heart in the show and you don’t even have to be a fan of horror to enjoy it. I honestly don’t think I can recommend it enough. I also wish that Mike Flanagan could readapt ‘Salem’s Lot, because this has that feel throughout even before the vampire stuff actually started being shown. I give Midnight Mass 10 bloody priest collars out of 10.