Midnight Mass

Midnight Mass review: Mike Flanagan horror is Holy Grail of addictive Netflix TV

You're in for one HELL of a watch!

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Christianity and moral obligation takes centre stage in new Netflix series, Midnight Mass. Strap yourselves in guys, you’re in for one wild ride.

The story focuses on the bleak and secluded Crockett Island. Population: 129. Actual signs of life? Waining.

Made up mainly of fishermen and their families, Crockett Island’s main social circles revolve around the local church, which is floundering with very little participation.

Even the Sheriff’s station is at the back of the general store. The only semi-outrage of the town? The fact the new Sheriff (Rahul Kohli) is Muslim – though he mostly keeps to himself.

Midnight Mass
Father Paul’s arriving coincides with a series of bizarre incidents on the island (Credit: Netflix)

It’s hardly the place to try and rebuild your life. But unfortunately for Riley Finn (Zach Gilford) that’s exactly where he ends up as he returns to his childhood home after a tragedy.

At the same time, the community welcomes a new priest in Father Paul (Hamish Linklater). He’s been roped in after the previous, ailing old Monsignor falls ill while on a trip.

With Father Paul eager to revive the island, he reaches out to the skeptical Riley, whose past behaviour and trauma leaves him second-guessing his previous faith. But soon the pair find themselves in the centre of a series of miracles. Miracles that keep happening with no seeming explanation. And with it, the town comes alive with a religious revival.

Midnight Mass on Netflix
As religious ferver takes over the town, what lies in store for the residents? (Credit: Netflix)

This poses numerous questions over the teachings of the Bible, and what they mean. At Father Paul’s side is Bev Keane (Samantha Sloyan), a woman so fervently sure she’s in the right, even when her moral compass is far from pointing north. She’s annoying, but she holds a power over the residents, and its a terrifying concept.

Absolute power corrupts absolutely. This is never more present in the oh-so-easy to hate Bev, who while seemingly withdrawn, holds most of the cards across the show.

It’s also incredibly isolating. With the island tiny, everyone has their own burdens or struggles they deal with alone. Riley and Father Paul aside, for the local teacher, it’s her pregnancy. For the doctor, her ailing mother only she can look after. And in the case of the Sheriff, it’s his own relationship with his religion when his son starts questioning his faith while being swept up with a revived Catholicism.

As the series progresses, frustration makes way for pure horror and terror. Truths start coming to light and by episode four, it takes you to a place you did not see coming. It paves the way for a showdown where you genuinely don’t know where it’s going to end up.

It also raises questions surrounding the Bible and its teachings in a non-preachy or judgemental way. Just how to the word would you allow yourself to go? How easy is it to buy into the life of a cult? How do you know the difference between good and evil?

Midnight Mass
Samantha Sloyan is perfection as the self-righteous Bev (Credit: Netflix)

The subject of religion is always a tricky one, and in this case, it’s done so with kid gloves. Is it cynical around the context of Christianity? Yes. But it’s also rather understanding in those turning to God for peace of mind, and desire to be a good person.

Mike Flanagan – who previously created Haunting Of Hill House and Bly Manor – calls this his favourite project to date. You can tell. His loving attention to detail with each characters’ moral fine lines makes it that much easier to invest in what he’s selling. And you buy it hook, line and sinker.

Some writers only dream of creating groundbreaking television, especially when it comes to the horror genre. Flanagan has managed to do it three times, and is only getting stronger.

Midnight Mass
Riley forms a bond with Father Paul as he attempts to rebuild his life (Credit: Netflix)

Is it worth the watch?

In short: Hell yes. Midnight Mass deserves to be the next major Netflix smash hit, and we have a feeling it will be.

It’s part religious thinkpiece, part pure horror as its finest. It’s also a rare case where, while at times the one-hour episode runtime feels slightly too long, it ultimately pays off in a sensational way.

Mike Flanagan’s ability to give every single resident of this tiny island understandable motivation remains unmatched in the limited series format.

Hamish Linklater’s Father Paul is the stand out star of the series, with his grappling of his own beliefs and serenity when things fall off the deep end.

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Similarly, Samantha Sloyan as the evangelist Bev is so perfectly infuriating in her self-righteousness she makes you love how much you utterly despite her.

Midnight Mass is a slow burner, but is absolutely captivating. The final three episodes in particular will knock your socks off.

Get ready.

Rating: 4.5/5

Midnight Mass launches September 24th on Netflix.

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