Midnight Mass Is Mike Flanagan's Less-Is-More Horror Classic: Review

Some of the best horror comes from within unexpected places, especially when it's internalized. The biggest monsters on display aren't always the most obvious. In the case of Netflix's Midnight Mass, it's supernatural events in a small town centering around a mysterious priest (Hamish Linklater). From the mind of Mike Flanagan, who knows how to give off serious Stephen King vibes in his storytelling, the seven-episode miniseries is very much a character-driven piece where the townsfolk of the isolated community of Crockett Island is a diverse mix of troubled personalities.

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MIDNIGHT MASS Cr. EIKE SCHROTER/NETFLIX © 2021

There are a handful of protagonists in Midnight Mass. Zach Gilford plays Riley Flynn, a former venture capitalist who tries to live his life normally again after serving time for killing a woman as a result of a drunk driving accident. Kate Siegel is Erin Greene, his childhood sweetheart, now a school teacher & expectant mother. Rahul Kohli plays Sheriff Hassan, who struggles to be accepted within the predominantly Christian community as a Muslim man, while Annabeth Gish's Dr. Sarah Gunning is the local doctor on Crockett Island.

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MIDNIGHT MASS Cr. EIKE SCHROTER/NETFLIX © 2021

Midnight Mass does an impressive job of dividing its story out among its principal characters as we learn of each of their pasts while not losing the impact of the supernatural phenomena along the way. As the mystery continues to unravel, we realize that the terror that emerges doesn't necessarily come from what ends up being "the big discovery." In fact, the "terror" does nothing more than accentuate the personality flaws that were already in play and fuel the eventual tragic zealotry. Without spoiling anything, I would just compare the events of miniseries tantamount to underrated cinematic classics like George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead and Frank Darabont's 2007 The Mist (which was based on a King story).

While the ensemble cast largely shines, the biggest key performances that make Midnight Mass work are Linklater and Samantha Sloyan, who plays Bev Keane. Her performance is perhaps one of the most chilling I've seen in a while, with Sloyan showcasing the character's zealotry & the powerful ways she carries herself in her evangelical fervor. It's a performance definitely deserving of serious Emmy consideration and reminded us a lot of Marcia Gay Harden's role in the film adaptation of The Mist. Flanagan's and his writing team's pacing & creativity allow the actors to shine, resulting in a climactic finale that was made even more bittersweet since it didn't need to rely on supernatural elements to finish its tale. I definitely recommend adding Netflix's Midnight Mass to your Halloween-viewing schedule.

Midnight Mass

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Review by Tom Chang

8/10
Some of the best horror comes from within unexpected places, especially when it's internalized. The biggest monsters on display aren't always the most obvious. In the case of Netflix's Midnight Mass, it's supernatural events in a small town centering around a mysterious priest (Hamish Linklater). From the mind of Mike Flanagan, who knows how to give off serious Stephen King vibes in his storytelling, the seven-episode miniseries is very much a character-driven piece where the townsfolk of the isolated community of Crockett Island is a diverse mix of troubled personalities.
Credits

Director
Mike Flanagan

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About Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangoria. As a writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.
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