What did I just say?
Anyway, before the spoilers begin, let me say unequivocally that I highly recommend Midnight Mass not just to horror lovers, but more or less anyone, given that it’s a great series that transcends the genre, just like Mike Flanagan’s last two “Hauntings” he did for Netflix.
Midnight Mass has been a long-term passion project for Flanagan, and he’s gained enough weight to finally do it. This might actually be his best job yet, and that means something, given what he’s done so far.
What I’m trying to make with my title here is that it’s best not to know anything about midnight mass. You can watch the trailer (autoplay) if you like, as it does a surprisingly good job of holding back and not giving out key plot points, namely the key point of the plot that you will eventually learn. The trailer sets up the idea that Something is wrong in this sleepy island town and Something weird is going on with this priest, but that’s really it. And know that it is enough.
So go watch it and stop reading. But what if you’ve seen it and want to talk about it? That’s what the rest of this article is for.
Ready? Spoilers follow.
The “turning point” I refer to in Midnight Mass is when you realize this isn’t a ghost story or a story about a serial killer priest. Rather, it’s Flanagan’s take on the vampire genre in a way that’s quite unique to anything we’ve seen before.
Hiding the source of the “miracles” until halfway through the show was stellar, understanding that Pruitt has been rejuvenated again by what he believes to be an angel, but is very, very clearly a former vampire buried in an Israeli tomb. No one says the word “vampire” in this show, but that’s what we’re doing here, serving vampire blood in fellowship to heal the sick and age the old.
It’s… a little strange how well Flanagan makes the idea of vampires work, his blood and the powers he gives within the constraints of Christianity and Catholicism. I’m not sure if Flanagan is anti-religious, but the Midnight Mass can be read as a pretty pointed commentary on organized religion, Christianity in particular, as the priest receives extraordinary power from the vampire which he then uses to trying to build an “army of the lord” which is… an army of vampires, and could at least in theory bring a very bloody end to the whole world, if allowed to spread outside the island. The parallels to consuming the literal blood of Christ (an authentic belief called transubstantiation in many sects) to the granting of eternal life promised by the Bible to understand that you would fear an angel when you first saw one, as happens many times in scripture, is a brilliant use of the real bible to draw vampiric parallels in a way i never thought would work. But it absolutely is.
It also helps that basically, like the two Hauntings before him, this is also a character drama. We’re treated to a lot of traditional Flanagan monologues about life, death, even racism, and while they can be a bit over the top at times, they work well and are showcases for each of the actors delivering them.
Special honors go to Zack Gilford’s Riley Flynn, a former alcoholic who turned one of the first vampires against his will, but able to withstand his new murderous urges better than others. And of course, this is an exceptional milestone for the Lost Priest himself, Hamish Linklater, who has been a “that guy” in a million Legion projects in Fargo at The Newsroom, but here he finally gets a chance to shine brighter than ever. has before.
These days, it becomes difficult to find new versions of many traditional monster genres, from zombies to vampires, but Midnight Mass is a rare exception, an entirely original use of the concept without even having to utter the ‘V-word’. just once. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did, and as always, I will look forward to whatever Flanagan does next.
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