All through the Haunting anthology, creator Mike Flanagan has carved out a really specific model of horror. Each Hill House and Bly Manor are sluggish and methodical, with intricate tales that fastidiously weave collectively ghostly scares with household drama. Their small scope retains them centered. Flanagan’s newest, Midnight Mass, isn’t half of that anthology, although in some ways it feels prefer it is. It has the identical affected person build-up, the intense deal with household dynamics, and even some of the identical solid. However Midnight Mass additionally will increase the scope — and the scares. As a substitute of a single household dwelling, its story encompasses a small fishing village, and as an alternative of ghosts it’s more about monsters. It takes a bit to get going, however by the finish it descends into pure and grotesque horror.
Midnight Mass takes place on Crockett Island, colloquially referred to as Crock Pot, an remoted island with a inhabitants of simply over 100 residents. There are two vital issues to find out about the island. First, it’s going by means of a gradual decline years after an oil spill decimated the native fishing trade. Second, it’s a really spiritual place, with St. Patrick’s Church serving as the de facto heart of city. At the outset of the present, the large island drama has to do with the ageing native priest, who went on a pilgrimage and returned sick, and is now resting in a hospital on the mainland. A mysterious, younger Father Paul (Hamish Linklater) arrives to quickly take his place. Paul reinvigorates the island’s neighborhood, turning the church into the bustling, vibrant place it as soon as was.
Round the time he arrives, bizarre issues begin occurring. Sooner or later, dozens of lifeless cats wash up on a seaside. Later, a resident swears he noticed the previous priest going for a stroll in the center of a lethal storm. Stranger nonetheless are the miracles: ageing residents begin to regain their youth, and a younger woman stands up from her wheelchair and walks with a purpose to obtain communion. All of these seemingly disparate developments are linked to the present’s large twist, which reveals itself about midway by means of.
Like most small city mysteries, Midnight Mass is an ensemble. The story begins out with Riley Flynn (Zach Gilford), a former altar boy who left the island, solely to return after a stint in jail for a lethal DUI that continues to hang-out him. He’s joined by childhood good friend Erin Greene (Kate Siegel), who is equally again on Crockett after a lifetime away from the island, now pregnant and dwelling in her mom’s previous home, whereas working her previous job at the native faculty. There’s additionally the city sheriff Hassan (Rahul Kohli), a former NYPD officer and seemingly the solely non-Christian on the island; Bev (Samantha Sloyan), the archetypal judgy spiritual sort who helps run the church and guilts individuals into attending; city physician Sarah (Annabeth Gish) who is struggling to clarify what’s occurring to her sufferers; and Riley’s dad and mom (Henry Thomas and Kristin Lehman) who’re simply making an attempt to maintain it collectively as they take of their troubled grownup son.
Though there’s so much to maintain monitor of, you’ll get to know these characters intimately over the present’s seven episodes, as a result of if there’s one factor the residents of Crockett love more than something, it’s speaking. An enormous portion of Midnight Mass’ run-time is devoted to dialogue. You’ll hear lengthy sermons from the new priest, intense and revelatory AA conferences, and too many childhood tales to rely. Everybody appears to preface their ideas with a monologue of some variety. The present is virtually like a nesting doll of tales. It will probably border on overload at instances, although it helps that the performances are uniformly nice. As a lot as I wished to see what occurred subsequent, I couldn’t assist however get pulled into lengthy, drawn-out speeches about demise and the that means of life. These moments additionally assist set the tone. A lot of the present is quiet and considerate, which makes the darkish moments hit actually arduous.
And there are some very darkish moments. In its first few episodes, Midnight Mass feels so much like the Haunting reveals. There aren’t actually bounce scares or bloody kills. It’s the variety of horror that you just watch by means of your fingers anticipating one thing horrible occurring … solely it hardly ever does. Finally the present lets unfastened in a giant, bloody method. It’s gradual — a couple of deaths right here, some horrifying revelations there — however by the finish Midnight Mass descends into full-blown horror. Like, we’re-on-the-run-because-we’re-all-gonna-die variety of horror. Ugly-killfest-that-will-keep-you-up-at-night variety of horror. And it’s all the more horrifying as a result of of how the present slowly ramps up, and the way linked you are feeling to the essential characters.
Maybe the most outstanding factor about Midnight Mass is the way it manages to stability these more contemplative components of the Haunting sequence — severe reflections on grief and guilt, religion and household — with more conventional horror components. It doesn’t lose what made Flanagan’s previous work so profitable. As a substitute it twists it into one thing bigger, more unsettling, and a complete lot scarier.
Midnight Mass begins streaming on Netflix on September twenty fourth.