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Existential Binge-Watching: ‘Midnight Mass’ is another Mike Flanagan masterpiece

Mike Flanagan seems to be able to do it all. After serving as the creator, writer, director, executive producer - and even editor for a couple episodes - of both The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that he had established himself as a master of the horror genre. While Midnight Mass isn’t part of The Haunting anthology, it was definitely still something that was highly anticipated for fans of Flanagan’s work. And it didn’t disappoint in the slightest.

The overall story continues in the same vein of the previous The Haunting shows from Flanagan. It’s a horror piece for sure, but not your typical one. It’s a slow burn, intricately put together character study surrounded and set in horror. From the very first episode, it’s clear there’s something sinister lurking in the shadows of the island the series is set on, but the focus is always on the characters.

Midnight Mass’ plot is constructed in a way that isn’t like usual horror films or series. You’re not going to get everything right away and then be shoved into a chaotic progression of episodes. As with his previous series, Midnight Mass hooks onto you from the very first minute and drags you along for every second after. Every line spoken, every reference, every musical motif, it’s all put into the show for a reason that makes sense either at the end of an episode or the end of the series. Make note of anything and everything because it all comes full circle.

In that regard, Flanagan’s writing continues to impress time and time again. 

Midnight Mass is one of the most intelligently written pieces of creative work to tackle religion in the way that it does. The show is sure to point out different flaws and what can go wrong with organized religion, but it also shows what faith can bring to people and gives it the respect it deserves in other areas at the same time. 

Instead of being too kind and preachy or outright bashing religion, it’s a healthy balance along the lines of both that’s not often done well in shows or films, or really anything for that matter. Not to mention, Flanagan still took the time to work in other themes outside of faith, like love and forgiveness and what death looks like/means.

The dialogue for Midnight Mass is also off the charts. For some, Flanagan’s shows might be misconstrued as being a bit too slow or filled with too many monologues. However, in those cases, these just might not be the shows certain people are looking for– and that’s okay. The conversations between characters in Midnight Mass sometimes play like poetry. The lines and quotes dig into your own psyche and connect you to these characters in a way that their emotions are felt so incredibly up close and personal. It still flows naturally, especially smaller interactions, but the important moments and discussions are given the beautifully written time they deserve.

Of course, the dialogue’s strength comes through in part because of the cast as well. Everyone from alumni of The Haunting series like Rahul Kohli or Samantha Sloyan to Flanagan newcomers like Alex Essoe and Zach Gilford are immaculate. If anyone had to be singled out, Kate Siegel’s Erin Greene and Hamish Linklater’s portrayal of Father Paul truly lead the way, but there’s not a single poor performance in this show.

With seven roughly hour-long episodes in this limited series, Midnight Mass is a wonderful binge-watch, though the heaviness of it all would warrant a slower viewing. The story starts and finishes everything it sets out to do in a tragically stunning and captivating way. There’s no lingering disappointment by the final credits, there’s no plot thread left unresolved, it does just what it needs to do and then some.

Needless to say, if you haven’t watched Midnight Mass yet, take some time to. It just dropped last week and deserves every view it gets, as it’s just a masterfully crafted journey. There’s certainly so many reasons to look forward to whatever is next for Flanagan.

I’ve said it before and will probably always continue to say it: trust in Mike Flanagan. The man is a horrific genius.

Jackson Horvat is a senior studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnist do not reflect those of The Post. Do you agree? Tell Jackson by tweeting him at @horvatjackson.

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