Mike Flanagan’s Netflix series has its angels and demons.
Mike Flanagan is known for directing such horror films as “Oculus” and “Doctor Strange,” and shows like “The Haunting of Hill House.” Now, he has a new show on Netflix,” which feels like out of Stephen King. It’s called “Midnight Mass,” and it’s a religious series that’s a lot more profound and serious than a lot of religious projects, full of blasphemy and bad acting.
There’s a particular character, who becomes the center of attention, and keeps streamers guessing on who he really is. Hamish Linklater is the right actor to play that character named Father Paul Hill, who may be an angel or demon or whoever he is. But we’ll find out once we’ve watched the whole show. No spoilers from me.
The show begins with a young man named Riley Flynn (Zach Gilford) being released from prison on parole, and returning to his hometown on an isolated island, known as Crockett Island. He’s still haunted by the woman he killed in a DUI accident, and has a rocky relationship with his traditionally religious fisherman father (Henry Thomas, disguised by makeup).
Other characters on the show include, the pregnant Erin Greene (Kate Siegel), who returns home from Upstate New York, Dr. Sarah Gunning (Annabeth Gish), whose elderly mother (29-year-old Alex Essoe, also disguised by makeup) is ill, the Mayor Wade (Michael Trucco), whose daughter Leeza (Annarah Cymone) is paralyzed in the legs, the alcoholic Joe Collie (Robert Longstreet), who was responsible for Leeza’s lost legs, the devoted Bev Keane (Samantha Sloyan), who collaborates with Father Paul, and the muslim Sheriff Hassan (Rahul Kohli), who often accused of being a terrorist.
Then arriving at the local church is Father Paul, who claims to be covering for the recently ill pastor Monsignor Pruitt. He also hosts the latest AA meetings, which only Riley attends, and the two discuss about his problems in life, and how the Lord works in mysterious ways.
Strange things have been occurring on the island. Riley sees Pruitt during a hurricane, dead cats are lying on the beach, and Joe’s dog has been poisoned. But miraculous things have been happening like Leeza being able to walk again, and Riley’s father having a better back.
The real questions are: do these miracles come with a price and is the new father really a saint? We’re given seven episodes to find out.
“Midnight Mass” is a riveting, thrilling, and thought-provoking series that shows us the angels and demons within the characters, especially Father Paul. Linklater is the one who really delivers in that role, because of how well he shows us who he really is and what he’s getting himself and other people into. And the supporting work from Gilford, Siegel, Gish, Kohli, Longstreet, Cymone, Sloyan, and Thomas are all uniformly excellent in how they present their characters in different lights. Some have faults, some have twists, and some share their truths. It’s all complex and emotionally challenging.
Certain monologues don’t make much sense, but you’re still able to see how Flanagan feels inspired by Stephen King to tell a story like this one. The first few episodes are interesting, while the final few episodes are quite shocking.
See for yourselves.
Streaming on Netflix