In my humble opinion, Flanagan is the best creator in modern horror, and Midnight Mass just makes that even more evident. Horror fans who don’t dig slow burns need to stick it out because the payoff is incredibly satisfying.
The seven-episode series begins by introducing us to Riley, who returns to Crockett Island after serving four years in prison. Riley was responsible for a drunk driving accident that killed a young woman, and he is clearly still distraught over it. Every night as he lies in bed, he turns on his side, only to see a vision of the girl looking at him, with shattered auto glass sprinkled over her like glitter.
In true Flanagan fashion, Midnight Mass is first and foremost about the characters: the good, the bad, the damaged, the imperfect and the regretful. We get to know these people over the first few episodes, and it hurts when bad things inevitably happen to several of them. And when I say it hurts, what I mean to say is invest in a box of tissues before watching this series.
We meet Riley’s parents (played by Henry Thomas and Kristen Lehman), the new Sheriff (Rahul Kohli, who was so good in The Haunting of Bly Manor), who just happens to be the only Muslim on the island, a small-town doctor (Annabeth Gish), Riley’s childhood friend Erin (Kate Siegel), a self-righteous religious zealot named Bev (Samantha Sloyan), a teenage girl who was paralyzed in a shooting accident (Annarah Cymone), and the man who shot her. Robert Longstreet (The Haunting of Hill House) plays this man, an alcoholic named Joe Collie, who is so filled with sorrow and regret that his only friend is his dog Pike.
And then another character comes into town, one who will change everything. Father Paul comes to fill in for Monsignor Pruitt, who has been the priest at St. Patrick’s for as long as anyone can remember. According to Paul, the Monsignor has fallen ill and will return eventually.
But, Paul wins over the residents of Crockett Island, and attendance at the church grows. Not even the skeptical Riley can help but be drawn to the new priest, while he is also drawn to his old friend Erin. Erin is a fairly recent returnee as well, pregnant and alone.
The story of Midnight Mass is so intricate and beautifully/horrifically told that I hesitate to give any more plot points than I already have. It’s better that viewers experience it all for themselves.
Weep, smile, shriek, cover your eyes, and feel the emotion that is wrapped up in nearly every scene of Midnight Mass.
Many of the actors have appeared in Flanagan’s other films and series, and they embody the characters so well. Robert Longstreet has two particular scenes that were just gut-wrenching, and he made me cry at one point without even speaking a word…it was all about his reaction.
But the story of Crockett Island is really all tied in with the character of Father Paul, and Hamish Linklater (Tell Me Your Secrets) does an amazing job. Watching him, we are not sure whether or not we should trust him, but just like the townspeople, we sure want to.
To wrap this up, I just want to appeal to those of you who claim to not like slow-burn horror. Do you like character development? Do you like being so immersed in a story that you have to tear yourself away from it at the end of each episode? Do you like bloody, hardcore payoff in your horror? Then, please give Midnight Mass a chance. I don’t think you will regret it.
Were you a fan of The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor? Will you watch Midnight Mass? Tell us all about it in the comments section.