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'Midnight Mass' Review: Meandering Revelations

Flanagan delivers a faith-based nightmare wrapped in monologues.

Midnight Mass
(Image: © Netflix)

Our Verdict

The weakest of the three Flanagan Netflix properties still hits the emotional punches you'd expect it to.

For

  • ✝️ Hits the emotional beats you expect from a Flanagan joint.
  • ✝️ Incredible monologues across a stellar cast.
  • ✝️ Samantha Sloyan's Bev Keane is the most deplorable character since Dolores Umbridge.

Against

  • ✝️ If you're not into slow burn stories, this one might feel like a bit of a chore.
  • ✝️ Very dialogue heavy.

Mike Flanagan's track record for creating emotionally poignant, horrifying television is pretty unmatched at this point. Midnight Mass, like Bly Manor before it, leans into a more existential kind of terror rather than the straight scares of The Haunting of Hill House, but make no mistake: This series is horrific. 

The series revolves around the small island congregation of Saint Patrick's Catholic Church. Riley Flynn (Zach Gilford) serves as the main character, so much as any Flanagan joint really has a "main character." But he's joined by a tight ensemble of remarkable — and familiar — characters that bring the story to life. The incomparable Kate Siegel returns as Erin Greene. Mike Flanagan definitely continues his trend of absolutely terrorizing his wife in Midnight Mass, but it's hard not to when the performances Siegel delivers are consistently incredible. Another Flanagan property alumn, Rahul Kohli, returns to deliver another knockout performance is the imitable Sheriff Hassan. But it's Samantha Sloyan's Bev Keane that stands as the most noticeable among the cast. (Mostly because she is abhorrent in every single way.) 

The large ensemble comes together to form the congregation of Monsignor Pruitt. The priest has remained at his station at Saint Patrick's for as long as much of the island has been alive, but we never quite meet the Monsignor. Instead, he's quickly replaced by Father Paul (Hamish Linklater), who's tasked with watching over the flock while the Monsignor gets his heath in order. Linklater delivers a career-best performance as Father Paul, driving home damn near every story beat Midnight Mass relies on so heavily. 

If this all seems like I'm being intentionally vague, you're absolutely reading correctly. There's so much of the series that's not meant to be discussed before viewers have had the opportunity to watch it. This means that the deep discussions that Midnight Mass so deserves can't occur here, but there's still much to explore in the meantime.

There's much to chew on in Midnight Mass, which means viewers need to be prepared for the long haul. The story is intricate, involved, and monologue heavy, which means there are plenty of moments where the narrative kind of meanders to its point. Fans of slowburn stories are going to eat this one up. Folks who are looking for something more akin to Hill House's frequent shocks as it tiptoes towards its deeply impactful finale will be disappointed. Each episode clocks in at over an hour, so be prepared to sit and take your time here. The story is worthwhile, but it absolutely takes its time getting to its point.

As you'd expect from the title, everything you're getting out of Midnight Mass is deeply rooted in religion, morality, and the type of "Christians" who deeply conflate the two. It will trigger a lot of rough emotions from those who have been victimized by the cruelty of folks who hide their bigotry in the name of their god. It will be just as frustrating, I suspect, for those who see the evilness that has overtaken much of their faith in the public eye. In short: it's not a simple watch! But it's a good one.

The cast and crew of Midnight Mass has gone well out of their way to ensure that no one gets spoiled on the twists and turns of their series. With that in mind, I'll leave you here with one final note, and a trailer.

Even at his weakest, Mike Flanagan delivers an emotional, gut punch of a series with deep and well "answered" questions. The cast here is unrivaled, with each major player doing the absolute most to ensure that you feel exactly what their character is feeling in the moment of their deepest losses. Midnight Mass brings a laser focus to both sides of the Catholic coin, and it doesn't balk at how far humans are willing to go in the name of their faith.