Filmmaker Mike Flanagan has blazed a trail unmatched by most other filmmakers since 2016. From Hush to Doctor Sleep and the two Haunting series, Flanagan has become a household name in the horror genre. But with the release of Midnight Mass this weekend, the 43-year-old has now cemented himself as one of the absolute best filmmakers in the entire industry right now. No one can question that statement after viewing all seven episodes of Midnight Mass, which is a methodically captivating horror story and arguably Flanagan’s best work to date. Anyone ready to be converted to the House of Flanagan and his mastery of character studies, exploration of themes, and expertly crafted horror settings should join him in his service that is Midnight Mass.
From Book I: Genesis to Book VII: Revelation, Midnight Mass tells the story of a small community on isolated Crockett Island, 30 miles away from the mainland. When a new priest arrives in town by ferry, unexplained miracles and events begin to happen, creating a religious rebirth amongst the community. However, with these happenings come dark secrets involving those we begin to get familiar within the community. Told over a span of seven episodes, Midnight Mass is another slow-burn from Flanagan. Covering faith, addiction, grief, and family, it’s a deeply rooted personal story that will keep you invested until the final shot.
If there’s one thing I cannot stress enough (much like I did in my review of The Haunting of Bly Manor), it’s that Midnight Mass demands your patience while the layers of its story are uncovered from one side of the island to the other. Also, those expecting frights and scares or to see ghosts in rapid succession like in other Flanagan productions should set their expectations appropriately. As with anything in horror, one does not necessarily have to screech in order to be frightened by the events they see unfold before their eyes. Case in point here is when things begin to boil from a story standpoint and once the frightenings become more frequent—well, you’ll see for yourself.
A trio of cast members gives career-best performances in Midnight Mass. Zach Gilford, known to many as the beloved Matt Saracen in Friday Night Lights, is more than capable as Riley, a guy returning home and trying to move on from his past after committing a horrible crime. Rahul Kohli is constructive and nuanced as the town sheriff, who is also trying to raise his son and teach him about religions. And most importantly, Hamish Linklater is charismatic and conflicted as the new priest. Giving the best performance of the series should put Hamish on the map for bigger stuff (hopefully). If you’ve watched Flanagan’s other work, you’ll recognize some noticeable actors, including Kate Siegel, Henry Thomas, and Samantha Sloyan, all of whom are also great (especially Sloyan as Bev Keane).
Few filmmakers can draw us in like Flanagan does in terms of investing in the journeys he takes us on. Midnight Mass’ embellishing look at faith will have you doing some deep soul searching, even if you have no ties to religion. If you’re ready to believe and be open-minded, then take a trip to Crockett Island this weekend. This miniseries is among one of the best things you’ll see in film or television this year. Period.
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