Midnight Mass (2021) | TV Review
by Dora Grabar
It’s October, and you know what that means: time to cosy up with something spooky to watch.
Netflix’s new limited series, Midnight Mass, is everything a horror lover could want, with equal parts psychological horror, based in religion and personal trauma, good old supernatural elements with some twists and turns and a fair share of blood. The premise is simple: a new priest and an ex-alcoholic come to a secluded island, where their respective approaches to religion are tested as miracles start to happen to the small community.
Directed by Mike Flanagan, Midnight Mass is visually just as pleasing and thematically unsettling as Flanagan’s other two series produced by Netflix, The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor.
He is excellent at showing the humanity of these characters, taking care in his approach to their core beliefs and how they are shown to the viewer, be it through dialogue, small gestures, or even symbolism in imagery and colour that ranges from extremely subtle to blatantly obvious.
This, of course, could not have been possible without the brilliant cast, as the characters are what makes this show so gripping. Kate Siegel (Erin Greene) and Zach Gilford (Riley Flynn) venture into the depths of their characters, resulting in a touching performance through their hardships. Rahul Kohli (Sheriff Hassan) and Hamish Linklater (Father Paul) offer standout performances, each of them a notable member of the community and bearing the community’s wellbeing on their shoulders. Through these characters, Flanagan explores various themes, ranging from alcoholism and abuse to religious fanaticism while keeping all of this wrapped up in a thick layer of psychological horror.
The psychological horror, after all, is the very essence of Midnight Mass. The show examines the lengths people are willing to go to in order to achieve their goals but also the impact religion has on communities.
Catholic imagery and themes are the building blocks of the show and while overbearing at times, they work well, as religion in itself has a certain factor of creepiness to it, especially when shown through devout believers. Don’t be turned off by the excess amount of Catholicism because it is approached through both a devout and a judgemental lens, as is the morality of the characters, too. It is not the villain of the show, either – but who that is, is for you to find out.