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Midnight Mass - Series Review

A small island where it’s inhabitants are all a close-knit community, experiences something it never thought possible, when a new priest arrives.



A limited horror series streaming on Netflix, created by Mike Flanagan who brought you the likes of Hush, Doctor Sleep and The Haunting of Hill House. Midnight Mass is a story that takes place on a small, isolated island. The first new arrival is Riley (played by Zach Gifford) who returns after serving four years in prison for dangerous driving. An incident where he accidentally took the life of a young woman. The second arrival is a new priest, Father Paul.


Most of the community are religious, but Riley is not. He had tried to find God whilst in prison but came out an atheist. As his parents are strong in their faith, they insist he attends mass. He views the new priest with scepticism but receives counsel from him in regards to alcoholism to help in his recovery.


Then, a miracle happens. Riley questions Father Paul about this miracle of how he knew that it would happen. Father Paul says he just knew. Showing that he has a close connection to God and that he is just following God’s words and saving the inhabitants of the island.


After that miracle, a number of other miracles happen too but perhaps the most bizarre is one of the people, Mildred Gunning (played by Alex Essoe), getting younger. She starts out the series as a frail, old woman suffering from dementia and is cared for by her daughter, Sarah. Father Paul then visits Mildred regularly for communion. After a few of his visits, the change in her becomes apparent.


The people of the island are thrilled with Father Paul’s presence and the changes that are happening. They believe that a new change is coming and Father Paul is the start of that. However, there are some more strange happenings that are less than favourable.


Erin Greene (played by Kate Siegel) is Riley’s childhood friend and love interest, who has returned to the island pregnant after trying to follow her dreams on the mainland but ended up in a toxic marriage. As Erin goes for a routine scan with Sarah Gunning who is also the towns doctor, they find that she is no longer pregnant. However, Erin declares there was no miscarriage. Erin then sees another doctor to which they find that her hormone levels show that she never was pregnant. Weird, right?


How could I forget to mention the cats! Very early on in the season, dead cats all wash up on the shore of the island. A mystery that no-one can find an answer to, especially since the cats are drained of their blood… Anyway, that’s enough of the plot spoilers.


Personally, I loved this series. I knew nothing about it going into it and actually, I didn’t even realise it was a horror. The first episode only really caught my attention because of the sound. Whenever something bad happens, there is a loud note played on a string instrument (I think it’s a cello) and it made me jump every single time. It’s used throughout the series and then becomes associated with a certain character, but for the first half of the series, it just brings fear. Something bad is happening or about to happen, but you don’t know what or why.


The setting is beautiful. It was filmed in Garry Point Park in Canada and although it seems to be set in modern day, it feels very detached from modern society. The islanders are dressed more conservatively and there’s no use of modern technology. The only real reason that it seems to be set in recent years is because of the world on the outside. Cellphones exist, Erin and Riley both went to find their own lives in different cities.


The controversial part is the “religion” theme throughout. Honestly, I thought that this series was going to be another one depreciating religious people as naive loons. But, it didn’t do that. In fact, I was really impressed how they handled it.


Firstly, we should start with Father Paul who claims to be carrying out God’s work. He convinces himself that what he is doing is right and that he is saving people. Later on though, he confesses that his motive has been selfish in it’s entirety. Throughout the series he quotes the Bible and strengthens people’s faith but what is clear is that he genuinely wishes to help people. By the end, he redeems himself.


In a huge contrast, we have Bev who aims to show herself closer to God than anyone else. She serves Father Paul but we see that her moral compass isn’t quite right. She pushes her personal agenda and uses faith to disguise it as the “right thing”. In the latter half of the series, she ends up on a complete power trip and brings out the worst in a number of people.


Here’s the thing. There were so many parallels with real life and two sides to the concept of religion. You have a number of people who believe in God and then a few who don’t. Pastors and priests are there to guide their congregation to do the right thing but there are times when they let their personal agendas get in the way. People in powerful positions use it to their advantage to get what they want. Equally, there are people who want to help others find their way to God, without any other motives.


We constantly see the difference between truth and lies and at the end, all is revealed. SPOILER WARNING… there is a death scene that is so beautifully executed where we see what the dying character sees and then what others see which again cemented the theme of faith and God. We see the character essentially going to heaven, and being forgiven whereas what the others see is something more frightening. If the creator wanted to dismiss faith, there would be no reason to show what happens after death. Similarly, when a bad character dies, there is a lot of screaming which assumes that they did not go to heaven, but elsewhere. SPOILER OVER.


There are other themes like forgiveness, fighting temptations and fighting for what’s right even if it’s against the majority. Riley especially is a character who is haunted by his wrong doing’s and doesn’t see how to move past it. His parents are the ones who are determined to not let something change who they are or what they believe in. Erin plays a crucial role in fighting for what she thinks is right as well as the Sheriff.


The only thing I didn’t like about it was one of the final monologues given by Erin which seemed to contradict the theme of faith. It was the only part that for me, felt disjointed, as if that dialogue belonged in another movie. Equally, there was a weird part where a bad character (SPOLIER WARNING), the “angel” dresses in the preist’s robes but they never really explained how that happened or what it agreed to perform.


I would highly recommend this series to watch. It’s not a typical horror and I can only say I enjoyed it as I had no idea what it was about. Personally, I felt that it was unpredictable and there were a few twists and turns that developed the story a lot more than expected. The ending was a little disappointing but you can’t please everyone. Nevertheless, it was incredibly enjoyable to watch and it also gives you a lot to think about with the parallels it draws to the real world.


My rating - 8.5/10

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