Messe de Minuit: a really great show that I don’t want to see again | Horror (television)


IIt’s fitting that a man like Mike Flanagan, who seems to inspire deep, deep devotion in both his fans and cast, ends up doing a show like Midnight Mass. The American writer-director has made a name for himself adapting the horrific visions of other people. for the screen: Stephen King (Gerald’s Game; Doctor Sleep); Shirley Jackson (The Haunting of Hill House); Henry James (The Haunting of Bly Manor, based on The Turn of the Screw) and Edgar Allan Poe (The Fall of the House of Usher, currently in the works.)

But Midnight Mass was Flanagan’s passion project: entirely his own and inspired by his upbringing in Catholicism, his later atheism and his love of horror. It was a novel idea, then a movie script, then an unsuccessful TV pitch – before it went into limbo, becoming just the title of a props book that Flanagan put in the background. of his films, his way of “keeping the idea alive”. .

But with the success of The Haunting of Hill House and Bly Manor, Flanagan got the green light to finally do Midnight Mass – a show that even those who loved it, like me, couldn’t bear to watch a second time. If you have the slightest trace of Catholic guilt in your gut, get ready.

Midnight Mass opens with Riley Flynn (Zach Gilford), a young venture capitalist who kills a drunk woman. After being released from prison, Riley seeks sanctuary by returning to his hometown, Crockett Island: a sleepy, island location 30 miles offshore and affectionately known by its 127 residents as “the Crock Pot.” Riley returns to live with her reluctant father Ed (Henry Thomas) and kind mother Annie (Kristin Lehman). The Flynns are loyal members of St Patrick’s, the city’s declining parish, which is normally overseen by Monsignor Pruitt, an elderly priest on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

Riley’s disgraceful return is overshadowed by the arrival of a new priest, Father Paul Hill (Hamish Linklater), a charismatic young clergyman who says he’s filling in at St Patrick’s to help Pruitt, who fell ill during his trip. . Riley, a reluctant church drag, sits among newly impatient parishioners who want to see Father Paul at work – and soon they’re seeing him perform miracles.

The reason Father Paul came to Crockett Island can be spotted a mile away by some, and to say much more about the horror nature of Midnight Mass would ruin the mystery. You can come to several conclusions about What it is, and everything is satisfactory. But Flanagan’s real concerns are not divine or supernatural, but human; they are about how we hurt and heal each other on this earth plane.

Actors tend to follow Flanagan faithfully from project to project (his Wikipedia page even has a graphic charting his collaborations) and Midnight Mass features some familiar faces if you’ve seen any of his other shows or movies. Henry Thomas, perhaps even better known as Elliot in ET, now regularly plays fathers for Flanagan; Kate Siegel, Flanagan’s wife, plays Erin, Riley’s childhood sweetheart; Rahul Kohli is Sheriff Hassan, a Muslim policeman on an island of Catholics; and Samantha Sloyan, who is an all-time villain as Bev Keane, a self-righteous fanatic who wields the scriptures as a weapon.

The new face of Flanagan’s flock is Linklater, who is captivating as Father Paul: his gloomy, rubbery face means that, even when his plan is revealed, you can’t help but be drawn to the guy. Horror is often overlooked when it comes to awards season, and the The Emmys’ failure to recognize Linklater’s performance last week was widely criticized. Flanagan is known for his penchant for writing monologues – and although some critics dislike the Flanologues, Linklater’s performance of Father Paul’s fiery sermons and sweet interventions is outstanding. All the monologues worked on me – the one where Riley dissects Catholicism’s attitude to suffering has stuck in my mind ever since.

All seven episodes are named after New Testament books, and the finale, Revelation, is biblically gory — and surprisingly sweet. Some don’t enjoy horror because the genre can sometimes be an emotional drain; when underdeveloped characters are difficult to heal, it can be difficult to grieve when killed. Tragedy is slowly brewing on the Crock Pot, as we get to know its people, so that when the violence and utter sadness finally arrives, there is still beauty and hope too. I bawled my eyes out at the end; I’ve had friends who don’t normally like horror do the same. So maybe I’ll never watch this wonderful, heartbreaking spectacle again – but Midnight Mass will stay with me forever.


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