The road to Hell is paved with bloody good intentions.
Mike Flanagan’s latest Netflix horror mini-series takes a long hard look at faith and organized religion. It depicts the best and worst of it. How important a Shepard is to his flock. And tragically how easy it is for the Shepard to mobilize that flock into a fanaticized army.
But the show isn’t an attack on the evangelicals even though I’m sure some will perceive it to be. It actually is filled with fantastic and insightful discussions about faith and the afterlife. The monologues might run on a bit but the acting here is phenomenal. The show is a slow burn but in the time it takes to build towards the horror, the show spends an adequate amount of time introducing several characters very quickly. You grow to care about these characters and actually care when bad things start to happen to the residents of this small island of people.
The cast features Zach Gilford, Kate Siegel, Hamish Linklater, Rahul Kohli and Henry Thomas. The series is centered around an isolated island community that experiences supernatural events after the arrival of a mysterious priest.
Midnight Mass tells the tale of a small, isolated island community whose existing divisions are amplified by the return of a disgraced young man and the arrival of a charismatic priest. When Father Paul’s appearance on Crockett Island coincides with unexplained and seemingly miraculous events, a renewed religious fervor takes hold of the community – but do these miracles come at a price?
And that is about all of the story I can sink my teeth into with out spilling all the spoilers.
Speaking of which, here are the spoilers….
Midnight Mass is a story of two men on two very different paths whose issues with faith and belief intersect and are challenged by each other. Riley is a lapsed catholic fresh out of prison for vehicular manslaughter and Father Paul Hill is the new priest of a secluded fishing village looking over the congregation for an aging Monsignor Pruitt who is on sabbatical in Jerusalem.
Riley is skeptical of Hill but the two eventually become good acquaintances as Hill comes across as someone who truly wants to help the dying community and the wayward Riley now having to live with his family he spent years trying to escape from.
Midnight Mass is a very slow burn with very long monologues about faith, atheism, and the afterlife. However Flanagan manages to make these discussions so deep and real that you don’t care. When the show has you caring about the town drunk, Joe and his dog by episode 2 of the 7 episode mini-series you know this is a well written show.
Other notable characters throughout the series are Erin, Riley’s ex love interest who is pregnant; Leeza a crippled girl who likes Riley’s younger brother Warren; Sheriff Hassan and his son Ali the two ostracized Muslims living in an all Catholic community; Dr Sarah Gunning who takes care of her elderly mother; and finally Bev Keane the town holier than thou troublemaker and right hand person to Father Hill.
Beyond that it’s hard to not discuss this show further without busting up the coffin and shining the light on all the spoilers. Spoilers I might add that Netflix and the internet both actually found a way not to ruin. I went into this series completely blind not know much about it other than it involved a fanatical church on a secluded island and that the show came from the guy behind Haunting of Hill House.
So when it was revealed that this show was like a cross between “Salem’s Lot” and “30 Days of Night” it was a pleasant, creepy surprise.
Yes, this is a show that has vampires in it. But they never refer to that as such. Father Hill makes strong and striking connections between vampirism and communion, the undead and scripture. When it’s revealed just who Father Hill is and that he brought what he calls an “Angel” to the island its a big shock. The Angel is a stalking, silent menace who towers over people and mesmerizes them with its haunting glowing eyes. It’s wing span is immense and it is extremely powerful.
Towards the end of the series, the intensity of the horror really picks up. After slowly picking off residents here and there Father Hill and the Angel finally lets their full plan known to a congregation that has been suckered into believing in his miracles which are actually achieved through the blood of the Angel. Meek and mild Father Hill becomes more and more verbose and demanding as the series marches towards its end. Like a general he rallies his congregation like troops through fanatical and empowered speeches. Aided by continued miracles that are unexplained by science, there’s nothing to stop Father Hill from carrying out his plan for the town’s resurrection.
Hamish Linklater does a fantastic job as Father Hill. Even when he descends into fanatical rhetoric his speeches are profound and actually have a part of agreeing with his actions.
I don’t want to get too much more into spoilers because I really want as many people to go into this completely blind as I was. Horror fans that are itching for some awesome vampire action will be rewarded in the series final two episodes that build towards an absolute bloodbath. Some of the deaths that occur throughout the series are shocking and heartbreaking but never cheap.
At the end of the day this series is a show about finding faith and restored belief that somehow works for both religious people and atheists. Oh and it has vampires.
Mike Flanagan once again creates a series with as much heart as it does horror. Fans of his that might have been disappointed with Bly Manor will want to give this series a shot to kick off the spooky fall season.
HipsterZOMBIEJoint Experience highly recommends sinking your teeth into Midnight Mass!
Gimme more of that Midnight Mass drink please…