When “Midnight Mass” popped up on Netflix it was Halloween season and I thought it might be a good sorta psychological fright. It was created by Mike Flanagan who also created the remake of “The Haunting of Hill House”. The original black and white version was the first movie to keep me up at night, terrified of what might be in the dark; both Hill House movies are loosely based on the book by Shirley Jackson. Flanagan’s remake is sinister with deeper characters and family storyline and I enjoyed the torture of it. I felt the same about his remake of the book The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (which is a book I once taught in my advanced tenth grade English class) called “The Haunting of Bly Manor”. “Midnight Mass” is similar to both of these series in that the characters are deeply flawed, as all humans are, and the story centers more on relationships than it does the increasing horror surrounding them.
I had to stop watching “Midnight Mass” for a bit after episode 4. I have to be in the mood for blood, which this one delivered seemingly out of nowhere, catching me off guard. When I did finish out the series I did binge it. I had several reactions: 1) I wish I knew my Bible better. I felt like I was lacking the knowledge to get the full picture of what Flanagan was trying to say – or not say. In other words, it felt like a sudo complaint of Christianity, Catholocism specifically, and without great knowledge of the specific context of some the Bible verses or Catholocism I think I probably missed something. 2) Wow. The tragedy of it. It was a love story in so many ways. 3) Cool use of vampire and angel mythology. 4) I want to watch it again to “English Teacher” it, as my kids say. (Call yourself fortunate I wrote this before I did that – this would have been a much longer post about symbolism, characterization, themes, and main ideas – ha.)
By the end of the series I was not as invested in the horror as I was in the tragedy of it for the community. My daughter would have very rightly rolled her eyes at me had she walked through the den during the last episode to find me sniffling at the tragic revelations amid the chaos that ensued.
I have to admit that my favorite of the three series is “The Haunting of Bly Manor” – perhaps because I know the original story so well and appreciate the modern adaption and additions to it and I do love a good ghost story. But, I will be watching “Midnight Mass” again to study it a bit closer.
Now to watch some Hallmark to balance this horror out . . .