Many people have compared Midnight Mass to the best work that Stephen King has given us, and I am happy to report that opinion is not far off the mark. Mike Flanagan’s latest brings us small towns, tortured characters looking for love and redemption, and things that go bump in the night that would make anyone question not believing in something. Flanagan once again finds ways to let us know who his influences have been, while once again proving to many that he is horrors heir apparent.
The show follows the residents of an offshore fishing village named Crockett Island, a community that has fallen on hard times and has left its dwellers with a sense of desperation. Enter Father Paul Hill (Hamish Linklater), a fresh face to the island taking over church duty from the resident holy man Monsignor Pruitt, who has come to Crockett Island to help and inspire. Among Crockett Island’s community is Riley Flynn (Zach Gilford), a man returning to the island after a lengthy prison sentence who is struggling with guilt and his faith, Omar Hassan (Rahul Kohli), the island’s Muslim Sheriff who is told by several people he is not an outsider to the them, but is consitently treated like one,, and Bev Keane (Samantha Sloyan), St. Patrick’s overbearing figurehead. Bev Keane became one of those characters I loved to hate, another staple King has been so good at over the years, I’m looking at you Percy Whitmore and Mrs. Carmody.
It goes without saying that the nature of faith and religion is at the forefront of the story being told here for much of it, but characters like Riley Flynn bring a universal outlook that I think anybody who sits down and views this can take something away from and ponder on. Count yourself lucky if you are a fan of Flanagan’s dialogue, because the show is laced with lengthy monologues that would make Tarantino blush, and probably grin if he’s seen this. It’s a credit to the entire cast really, select characters were given so much to chew on and every single one of them were up to the task.
Midnight Mass is a crescendo. There are moments of effective terror throughout, and by the last episode everything has gone batshit crazy. It is a perfect storm of writing, directing, cinematography (so much of which is amazing), and casting. If you love horror and great characters, and have put your faith in Mike Flanagan to be the future of both, you will not feel let down with Midnight Mass in my humble opinion. As someone who has struggled with elements of my past and the nature of my belief, this show hit me in a pretty profound way, I hope it has done that for others. What we’re being asked to ponder here are things I truly believe are worth pondering.
Mike Flanagan has that talent for giving us something that transcends the horror genre, yet still makes itself right at home. The setup was great, the payoff was better. He paid homage, and combined elements that complimented each other perfectly. I guess there’s really not much left to say but, bring on the next one.