Midnight Mass: A Look At Religion Under A Horrific Lense

“[Be] as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves.” — Matthew 10:16

Well, here we are again. Back again talking about another Mike Flanagan Netflix original series! I know you were all waiting on pins and needles. Fear not, as I am here to relieve that pain! Midnight Mass is the most personal and close-to-home project for Flanagan. He bases so much of the main protagonist, Riley, on his personal experiences and fears. Heavy inspiration is pulled from Stephen King’s novel “Salem’s Lot” which focuses on a small town plunged into madness after a mysterious new figure moves in. The same can be said about Mass. The significant differences are that the show takes place on a secluded island and discusses religion and its different effects on others.

Crocket Island is a small island community miles away from shore. Riley has just come home after a 5-year stint in prison for vehicular manslaughter. Upon returning to the island, he understands the community is dwindling, and the town is practically a ghost. His relationship with his family is strained, so he finds solace in his old friend, Erin. The two have great chemistry, with all the credit going to the actors. As we explore the island, we meet the rest of the inhabitants, namely Bev Keane, Sheriff Hassan, Dr. Sarah, and her mother. The town relies heavily on their faith to get them through troubling times, and Bev is on the front lines using religion to justify her existence, amongst other actions. When their local monsignor begins to fall ill, he is sent to Jerusalem to connect with his religious roots. But that is not who returns to the island…

Monsignor Paul Hill, a young and suave priest, comes to fill in Pruitt’s position while he is away. Many of the residents are taken in by Paul during his first few days. But when he goes to knock on his suitcase, something knocks back… What follows is a story of transformation and redemption amid trying times. Unfortunately, the island’s residents are entirely underprepared for the forces of change to descend upon them. 

Throughout the show, the topic of extreme belief in Christianity is called into question. Bev Keane is a religious woman who holds self-given supremacy over the rest of the island’s residents. Her view only strengthens as the story progresses and the stakes are raised. Meanwhile, Riley has lost his faith. After the accident, he cannot find a reason to believe. So why does god take the good ones, and the drunks only get scratches? He is asked this early on and does not forget the sentiment behind it. 

Finally, we have Monsignor Hill. His enigmatic and mysterious aura drive residents closer to him. He infuses himself into the town by assisting those who begin to question their beliefs, such as Riley. But true miracles start to happen around the island. That only cements his high-powered status in town. Everyone wants to take a bite of the magic, and their relationships with god and one another are put under close scrutiny; with all this blind faith, though, something terrible is bound to happen.

I can tell you now that this review does not do the show justice and is all over the place, but I promise the heart is there! With every monologue, there are traces of genuine care, want, and care in creating the show. While it isn’t outright scary, the discussions on death can chill you to the bone. I recommend a viewing. It may become a new favorite show. Who knows! Just take a bite and have a great rest of your day!

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