Spoilers love the new album. Oops, wrong blog. Sorry.
I think at some point I did started watching this show and dropped it, because it looks rather familiar. That being said, this is a show that’s considered a part of Mike Flanagan’s “Flanaverse”. Not that there is any continuity in these TV horror shows, but just a similarity in themes and of course the recycled cast. I have enjoyed most of his shows, but I have to say this one definitely has a bit more of a religious flare than most that goes for a long spell before the impending horror twist starts.
Midnight Mass (2021) was created by Mike Flanagan. Riley Flynn (Zach Gilford) has returned home to Crockett Island after spending several years in jail for involuntary manslaughter due to driving under the influence. Father Paul (Hamish Linklater) has also arrived to the island, being both open-minded and charismatic. The closed knit community is impacted differently by their arrivals but it will be Father Paul who will be at the center of a religious fervor revived by unexplained and seemingly miraculous events. While everyone whispers about the new man of god, a rather darker explanation slowly creeps in.
It’s a big cast and there’s plenty of great performances to praise, pardon the pun, here. Rahul Kohli is great at playing the incredibly patient Sheriff Hassan, enduring the worst of the close-minded townsfolk. Samantha Sloyan is amazing at portraying the manipulating sociopathic religious zealot Bev Keane. Yes, she plays one of the most villainous of beings but that takes talent. Annabeth Gish does great work as fiercely brilliant Dr. Sarah Gunning. Kate Siegel works at the strong and independent Erin Greene. But mostly the show relies in Hamish Linklater as the center of it all.
The show spends a rather long time building up the character development and the sense of community to the point that you’re either feeling intrinsically connected to the island’s renewed community… Or not. Our outsiders here are few seem to be on the sidelines. Riley appears to have the protagonist role but his character is stoic, hardly talkative. It’s a far cry from someone as charismatic to rally the community behind him as Father Paul does. Sheriff Hassan fits the role a lot of better, as the one with more common sense than the less than bright people he serves.
The problem I find here is unfortunately a personal bias. As someone who has endured a love-hate with religion, I firmly shake off indoctrination even its cinematic depiction of the religious flavour. There is the obviously manipulative portrayal as played loud by Bev to identify her as antagonistic and then there’s the subtle one, the more community-driven faith that unites the families of Crockett Island so easily bent to literal misinterpretation. The problem is that while the first is painted evil and the second is supposed to be the innocent simpler and naive faith. The first is corrupt, the second is its enabler. The volatile one only endures because the second one’s allowing it. Dogma drives this show until horror can take root, and it’s really hard to stomach it for 4-5 episodes until finally horror comes into the forefront.
Yes, it’s a long review…
Horror finally takes the forefront for the final two episodes, and although I does feel somewhat of a vindication after all the christian dogma regurgitated it just doesn’t seem equal. So in the end, I see how the finale tries to bring about poetic justice but the time spent consuming all the religious filler seems wasteful. There’s still too much dramatic license spent in characters having these long epiphanies that somehow end feeling religious… again.
Recommended with reservations. Yes, despite the truckload of religious lore that is shoved down our throats, I would say it does manage to craft a strange pseudo-christian horror story. The problem for me is the strong indoctrination vibes that permeate entire production, which are not my taste. I can still recognize the storytelling even if I feel it does fashion itself too preachy for extended scenes at a time. Worth a watch if you don’t mind the theme, but horror fans will only get some crumbs out of it.
That will do for now.