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TV Review- Midnight Mass (2021)- Hell’s Angels

Riding on the high of his critically- acclaimed The Haunting of Hill House and Bly Manor series, Mike Flanagan has given to us another new horror mini-series Midnight Mass on Netflix.

Set on the remote fishing community of Crockett Island, the plot follows the return of disgraced local Riley Flynn (Zach Gilford), having served his time for a devastating drink-driving incident. He struggles to piece together the fragments of his shattered life, in reconnecting with his family, particularly his stern father (Henry Thomas) and his childhood sweetheart Erin (Katie Siegel) However, the community is turned upside down by charming new young priest Father Paul Hill (Hamish Linklater), whose arrival brings about a series of miracles that restore the dwindling faith of the people, especially the fanatical Bev Keane (played brilliantly by Samantha Sloyan). However, not all are so easily swayed. Along with Riley, the town doctor Sarah (Annabeth Gish) and the local sheriff (Rahul Kohli) are suspicious; and their digging reveals the horrifying truth behind the phenomena and the Father himself.

Despite an intriguing premise, the show does not live up to the same standard levied by its predecessors. Riley is a sorely underutilized protagonist, with the initial focus delving over to Erin and the other aforementioned characters. If equal focus had been given to each, as had previously been done more successfully in The Haunting of Hill House with the Hill siblings, then it would have helped tighten the show’s wavering plot. However, the characters are intriguing, with special mention going to Alex Essoe, who plays Sarah’s elderly mother, Mildred, whose drastic changes and her relationship with Father Hill provides an emotional core of the show. Annarah Cymone is another sympathetic character, who plays the mayor’s wheelchair-bound teenage daughter Leeza, who is miraculously healed but becomes increasingly uncertain of her ‘blessing’ as things become more sinister.

The show raises interesting questions about the nature of faith and the devastating consequences of blindly following can lead to. The show’s true antagonist is a horrifying one, taking oeuvres from Nosferatu (1922) and Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot (1979), the latter of which the show derives heavy inspiration from, both in its insular community setting and quirky supporting cast. This is backed up by a fittingly evocative score, provided by the Newton Brothers, who previously collaborated with Mike Flanagan on another of his films, the overlooked Oculus (2013). Bev Keane provides a wonderfully hateable antagonist, one whose fall you’ll likely cheer.

If you’re looking for something short, sweet and sufficiently scary, then Midnight Mass might quench that thirst.



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