Saturday, September 25, 2021

(September 2021)

“But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love, and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.”
--Genesis 39:21

Crockett Island (pop. 127) is the home Riley Flynn (Zach Gilford) finds himself returning to after years of incarceration, just in time to bear witness to mysteries and miracles.
That, in a nutshell, is Mike Flanagan’s latest Netflix offering, Midnight Mass, which is, among other things, a tale of faith and addiction, of community and mortality, of belief (and the selective interpretation of scripture) as a weapon and a means of manipulation and justification.

“The people on this island… We used to be hundreds. Now, we’re just dozens.
“This isn’t a community anymore, honey. It’s a ghost.”

One of the strengths of Midnight Mass is its depiction of a group of disparate individuals united only in their faith (though there are, naturally, a number of outliers in that respect) and the turmoil of daily existence in an economically devastated community struggling to stay alive.
And that particular strength is down to some excellent writing from Flanagan and company, coupled with some powerful performances from the cast, which includes some past collaborators like wife Kate Siegel, Henry Thomas, Starry Eyes’ Alex Essoe, The X-Files’ Annabeth Gish, and BSG’s Michael Trucco*.
And while Gilford is probably best known for Friday Night Lights, he’s been ‘round these parts before, thanks to Larry Fessenden’s The Last Winter (part of the ¡Q horror! 2008 rundown).
Oh! And Groove’s Hamish Linklater (seen more recently on TV’s Legion) is here too, in a pivotal role.
I could go on and on…

“What is otherwise horrible is good because of where it’s headed.”

Yes, there are some scares here, and sure, there is some gore, but ultimately, Midnight Mass is a heart-wrenching tale told through the lens of one of supernatural horror’s most enduring of fixtures, a story of yearning and loss and the struggle to find meaning and a sense of understanding and peace in an imperfect and often brutal world.
And believe me, it’s a final assessment that comes as a complete (albeit very welcome) surprise.
More so than a “horror” story, it’s an achingly beautiful piece of work, this.
Partake of its bounty… and be not afraid…

“I mean, what’s a little crazy between friends, right?”

* Gish appeared in Before I Wake and The Haunting of Hill House, while Trucco was in Hush, in which he acted alongside Siegel and Midnight Mass’ Bev Keane, Samantha Sloyan.
And Essoe was in Doctor Sleep, as well as The Haunting of Bly Manor (more on that below).
Yup, Flanagan does enjoy working with the same stable of performers, doesn’t he?

Parting Shot:
For a number of reasons, I haven’t had the opportunity to take in Flanagan’s The Haunting of Bly Manor (despite the fact that I thought very highly of The Haunting of Hill House).
But who knows?
Maybe I’ll finally step through Bly Manor’s door soon…
Halloween’s just around the corner, after all…

(Midnight Mass OS courtesy of

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