Monday, October 18, 2021

‘Midnight Mass’ Review: A Remarkably Haunting and Heartbreaking Affair

Mike Flanagan’s latest horror venture is just on the horizon. Midnight Mass, a 7-episode limited series, is due to land on Netflix this Friday.

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 unexplained and miraculous events begin happening, a renewed religious fervor takes hold of the community, but an ominous darkness is also lying in wait.

I was on board with Midnight Mass from the moment that I learned Flanagan had another project coming, but coming out now on the other side, I can absolutely say that this series blew all of my expectations out of the water. While The Haunting of Hill House told an unforgettable, resonating tale, The Haunting of Bly Manor crafted another intriguing story built upon a similar premise of a house full of secrets and ghosts. But Midnight Mass? This is something else entirely.

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This story is deeply personal to Flanagan, and it’s something that’s been brewing for over a decade now. The dedication poured into this series shows, and it shines brightly throughout every frame until the last scene fades to black and the final credits begin to roll.

Midnight Mass Still Frame
Netflix

Midnight Mass is an incredibly layered story, one that digs deep into themes of addiction, sobriety, religion, corruption, and the base desires and impulses embedded within the very threads of human nature. One of the most beautiful things about Flanagan’s work is his innate ability to weave so much humanity into his tales of horror. I felt such a deep connection to all of Crockett Island that I couldn’t hold back my tears as the finale came to a close.

The casting on this series is impressive across the board. Hamish Linklater as Father Paul Hill is certain to leave audiences just as enraptured with his performance as the people of Crockett Island are with the priest himself. It’s hard to imagine anyone else pulling off this role as well as he did. Samantha Sloyan immerses herself entirely in a central character that drives the story. And Zach Gilford’s haunting, painful portrayal of guilt and self-loathing will be hard to forget.

Kate Siegel is an excellent scene partner of Gilford’s, and she carries her own scenes with a determined, self-assured energy that propels the story forward. It was also wonderful to see the return of Rahul Kohli after Bly Manor, this time given a chance to dive into much heavier role. (And without giving too much away, I’ll just say that he knocks it out of the park entirely in episode 6.)

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Every frame, every line, every movement, and every musical cue in Midnight Mass paints a tight, flawless story from start to finish. As the plot of the series unfolds, it expands outward in unexpected directions. The storytelling that takes place here is brilliant, taking audiences on a journey that’s equal parts visual, auditory, and mental. It’s terrifying, it’s heartbreaking, and it’s downright stunning. And as the climax of this tale crests in the final two episodes, it will tear you apart from the inside out.

Though your stay on Crockett Island is only temporary as a viewer, it will undoubtedly stay with you and haunt you long after.

Midnight Mass will begin streaming on Netflix Friday, September 24. Stay tuned for our episodic recaps.

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Lindsey
Lindsey joined the Nerds and Beyond team in 2018. She has spent a large portion of her life dedicated to her first love, photography. When she's not behind the camera, she's likely reading books and comics or dabbling in creative writing. Otherwise, she's probably yelling about something Star Wars or Marvel related on Twitter @lindyysolo. Contact: lindsey@nerdsandbeyond.com

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