Just binged Midnight Mass. Actually, binged isn’t right. I had to spread the seven, hour-long episodes over 3 nights because it takes time to process what happens.
Which actually, upon reflection, isn’t much. If you’re expecting the usual blood and guts and viscera horror, this isn’t it. It’s got plenty of scary moments, but it has a lot more talking and reflection than most shows. Characters often go on almost soliloquies for several minutes.
Midnight Mass is a story about faith, religion, death, love and more. Redemption, which is the strongest character arc of all? What happens when we die is at the core of it, but the fear of death is the set up. After all, isn’t that a large motive for organized religion? The promise of life after death?
I was raised Catholic. Went to 12 years of Catholic school. Was an altar boy and can still do some prayers in Latin. In fact, I took Latin at Cardinal Spellman High School (side note—a famous alum, who graduated a few years before me with my brother, is named Sotomayor)
But I hadn’t been in a church in decades when I went a couple of years ago with a visiting uncle. It was a stunning event for me. The words, the ceremonies, the church itself. Midnight Mass encapsulates the cultish atmosphere and pushes it to extremes.
Zach Gilford, from Friday Night Lights, is superb as Riley Flynn. Hamish Linklater as Father Paul, fits the role perfectly as he seduces the congregation with the best of intentions—or so it seems, but perhaps it’s a bit more personal than that? After all, the most dangerous people are those who do terrible things, believing they are doing good.
Perhaps the most chilling role went to Samantha Sloyan as Bev. We all know a Bev. That person so convinced of their own righteousness that they believe they can rule everyone else while pretending to do good. At the end she proves what that kind of person she truly is.
One key to the series is how there is a Bible quotation for every single situation and stand a person wants to make. Seriously. Want to kill someone? Got a quote for that. Bev had a Bible quote for everything, right until the end.
Yeah, it’s a vampire story. But it’s not about the vampire, who has minimal screen time and is, actually, a lot less scary than the people. It’s about the humans. About faith and the dangers involved. I know I’m being vague but I don’t want to give too much away. There are moments of great poignancy in the series and also some terrifying ones.
Well worth the time.
PS: I wrote my own vampire story in Area 51: Nosferatu, and interestingly, it turned out to be mostly about love, which wasn’t I thought it would be. The same with my Bible story, I, Judas: The Fifth Gospel.