(W/ LIGHT SPOILERS)
the ENTIRE season
Midnight Mass (2021)
Midnight Mass is the third installment in the “Mike Flanagan Netflix Original Horror Universe,” and let me tell you, it packs a hard punch. Released on the heels of The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor, I was expecting another aesthetically pleasing, sometimes saccharine melodrama. You know…a nice, cozy way to spend a fall weekend. What I got was anything but that.
I don’t consider it a spoiler to say Midnight Mass is far and away Flanagan’s darkest project to date (and yes, I’ve seen Doctor Sleep.) Relying heavily on themes of death, religion, and the meaning of life, it’s enough to give even the most positive person a mini existential crisis. I have seen some complaints about a lack of trigger warnings for scenes featuring animal deaths (something for which Netflix has come under scrutiny in the past) but the scenes that impacted me the most were those in which the main characters embarked on several-minutes long monologues about death and the afterlife. It is heavy, heavy stuff - and at times the dialogue was so impactful I felt like I had the wind knocked out of me. There were tears. Maybe a little snot. It was a tough watch.
The cast is simply superb. Hamish Linklater plays an incredibly sympathetic anti-hero, and Rahul Kohli deserves every bit of love he’s receiving for the role of the town’s Sheriff. The real standout, though, is Samantha Sloyan, whose portrayal of finicky religious fanatic Beverly Keane is honestly Emmy-worthy. Truly, the entire cast of characters does an incredible job of bringing this gut-wrenching story to life. For a 7-hour stretch, I almost felt it wasn’t beyond the realm of possibility for this insanely dark fairy tale to be real life.
I’m not typically someone who has a hard time separating an emotional fictional story from reality, but even I had to have the “it’s ok… it’s just a TV show” talk with myself a couple of times. I think this just goes to show how well-acted and directed it was, even if at times it felt excruciating to get through. If you are going to embark on the Midnight Mass journey (which I do recommend) I highly suggest taking breaks between episodes to keep yourself from getting bogged down by the weight of the storyline. It’s a beautifully heart-wrenching tale, but it comes at you fast. I, for one, will be thinking about this show for a very long time.