Photograph: Eike Schroter/NETFLIX

Midnight Mass review | Mike Flanagan’s new horror series just did not hit the mark

Written by Molly Magennis / @mollymag3

Midnight Mass (2021) stars Kate Siegel, Zach Gilford, Hamish Linklater and Rahul Kohli and explores the life changing fallout the arrival of a mysterious priest has on a small isolated community. 

Let me start off by saying I am a huge fan of Mike Flanagan. Not only is he one of my favourite horror directors, having directed The Haunting of  Hill series and films such as Hush (2016) and my personal favourite Oculus (2013), he is definitely up there as one of my favourite directors in general. His storytelling abilities are spectacular and his directing style, particularly within the horror genre, is a breath of fresh air in a genre saturated with unoriginality and boring tropes.

So, safe to say, when I heard he was coming out with a new horror TV series on Netflix, I was just a tad excited. A few days before the series was released, my Twitter feed exploded with extremely positive reviews from critics and news outlets. This made me even more hyped.

But, as much as it pains me to admit, Midnight Mass just did not resonate with me. As soon as the first episode finished, I had a feeling this show was going to be a slow burn. And it was. Painfully so. I actually really loved the themes and ideas explored in Midnight Mass, as well as the horror elements that Flanagan portrayed. What I think let this show down the most was the unbelievably slow pacing. There were so many moments throughout the show where I just dozed off. Some of the dialogue scenes were so unnecessary and dragged on for way too long, I often wondered what purpose they had being in the show. 

I will say the acting by Hamish Linklater, who plays the priest, was phenomenal. He could not have been a better cast, and he carried the whole show with his passionate and animated performance. 

I also enjoyed the horror elements, but wish there were more. Maybe that’s because I’m a huge horror fan and could always do with a bit more of a scare, but I think the point of this show wasn’t to scare you with supernatural creatures or monsters,  but to scare you on a more personal, thought provoking level. 

I’ll be honest and say that I only finished this show because of the fact that Mike Flanagan directed it. If he hadn’t I probably would’ve given up very quickly. That being said, a quick google search shows many, many articles and reviews that disagree with me completely. So maybe this show just wasn’t for me, maybe I didn’t get it. Maybe the religious themes didn’t resonate with me as they will with others. 

Mike recently tweeted that if we didn’t enjoy the show, he hopes he’ll resonate with us more next time.

That’s exactly my feeling after finishing Midnight Mass. I appreciated the craft and what Mike was trying to do, but I will definitely be eagerly awaiting his next project. Mike’s talent is unwavering and I can’t wait to be frightened all over again by his next piece of work. 

Catalyst has been the student publication of RMIT University since 1944. We may be older than your parents but we’re still going strong!

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