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Midnight Mass (a Netflix Limited Series) From Mike Flanagan

Bonnie Taylor is an internationally published author, blogger, and book/movie reviewer.

Who is Mike Flanagan

For those who aren't familiar, Mike Flanagan is the writer-director of The Haunting of Hill House and later, the Haunting of Bly Manor. He is also recognized as the director of Dr. Sleep, Hush, Geralds Game, and Ouija among others. Flanagan is known as a horror director who brings something more to the genre. He works on horror projects with a humanistic approach. One thing is certain with Flanagan. His work is comprised of so many layers, if you blink, you just might miss a pivotal piece of the puzzle, much like the many hidden ghosts in Hill House that I for one had to go back and look for later.

The Beginning

In keeping with Flanigan's humanistic storytelling, we meet Riley Flynn played by Zach Gilford. Riley is returning home after serving a jail sentence for vehicular manslaughter. Home is a small island community called Crockett Island. We learn that Riley is tormented by the memory of the fateful night when his drinking took the life of a young girl and that Crockett Island didn't fare well while he was away. Its population dwindled to just 127 people after an oil spill devastated the island fishing community. The island's priest, Father Pruitt, was also expected to be on the ferry but instead, we meet a young and charming Father Paul Hill who explains that Pruitt fell ill while on retreat to the holy land and that he was sent to replace him at the island's St. Patrick's Church.I confess I found myself wondering if the church would really be this concerned about the religious wellbeing of such a tiny and remote congregation.

The People of Crockett Island

We see Father Paul Hill (Hamish Linklater) exit the ferry with a large trunk as St. Patrick's altar boys and the son of the new sheriff wait for the local drug dealer to sell them some pot that he purchased on the mainland. One of the altar boys is Riley Flynn's brother, Warren.

The Island children are taught by Erin Green (Kate Siegel), a recently returned former resident and Riley Flynn's former love interest, and Beverly Keane (Samantha Sloyan), a religious zealot and judgmental pain in the backside. She is particularly hard on the newly appointed Sheriff Hassan (Rahul Kohli) and his son who are the only Muslim residents of the island.

Sarah (Annabeth Gish) is the community doctor who lives with her ailing mother. Sarah attends St. Patricks but has her reservations about the new priest. Father Paul makes daily visits to give communion to Sarah's mother (Alex Esso) who, in her demented ramblings provides several clues to Father Paul's true identity.

Warren and Riley's parents (Henry Thomas and Kristen Lehman) are portrayed as simple and well-meaning people who are using their faith as a safe haven as the effects of the oil spill have crippled them financially.

Mayor Wade Scarborough (Michael Trucco), his wife, Dolly (Crystal Balint), and their handicapped daughter Leeza are also members of the congregation.

Not everyone in the community attends mass, however. Joe (Robert Longstreet), the town drunk is a bit of an outsider and the reason Leeza Scarborough is paralyzed. She was accidentally shot by Joe.

Unbeknownst to the others, there is another new arrival on the island. At times, he is seen in the sky and confused for a giant albatross. Riley Flynn sees him on the beach wearing Father Pruitt's coat and hat and, Sarah's mother Mildred sees him outside her window. She tells Sarah that she thought she saw her father outside but when he came close to the window, he had a terrible face.

Miracles and Misfortune

Strange things begin to happen after Father Paul arrives. First, a storm covers the shoreline with the bodies of a feral cat colony. The cat's necks are broken and the Sheriff points out that although the seagulls are feeding on them, there isn't a drop of blood to be found.

Next, some of the residents begin seeing improvement in their health. Annie Flynn no longer needs her glasses and her husband's chronic back pain simply disappears. Most notable is the change in Sarah's mother. Not only is her hip and dementia improving, but she seems to be aging in reverse.

Erin, who is pregnant, goes for a check-up and finds that the baby that she was carrying is simply, no longer there. She travels to the mainland to see another doctor and is told that there is no indication that she was ever pregnant.

The young drug dealer goes in to an abandoned house and is attacked and killed by a strange creature causing his mother to report him missing.

The real miracle takes place on Sunday when Father Paul commands Leeza to come to him to receive her communion wafer and the paralyzed girl stands and walks to the altar.

Father Paul doesn't seem to be faring well, though. He slips away from the church and coughs up blood after healing Leeza. In another incident, he passes out while giving a sermon. Later, he collapses in his cottage and dies. His death and subsequent resurrection is witnessed by Beverly and other islanders which solidifies their absolute faith in their new priest.

The Reveal

Midway through the series Father Paul begins hearing his own confession. He tells us that Monsignor Pruitt wandered away from his tour group and got caught in a sand storm. He sought shelter in a ruin where he was attacked by a winged creature and was killed and resurrected as a younger version of himself, Father Paul. Viewers may have already drawn this conclusion as Beverly realizes that the young Monsignor Pruitt seen in a news article on his cottage wall looks stunningly like Father Paul.

This creature is, in fact, a vampire but Father Paul convinces himself that it is an angel and smuggles it back to Crockett Island where he can use it to eradicate death and give his congregation everlasting life. He manipulates scripture to justify both his belief and his actions. We discover that he has been mixing the creatures blood with the communion wine and giving it the congregation in order to prepare them for their death and rebirth. This is the reason for the "miracles" and also why Erin Green's baby vanished from her womb. Joe visits Father Paul and realizes that the Father may be a wolf in sheep's clothing. He attempts to leave but the Father hugs him tightly. He struggles to free himself and takes a fall, wounding his head. We watch as the Father drinks the man's blood. We are also stunned to find that Beverly discovers the gruesome scene and demands that two of the towns people dispose of the body and cover up the crime.

The "angel" comes to Father Paul in the church recreation center and provides him with a much needed dose of blood for the final turning of the congregation. Riley stumbles upon the two and is attacked by the creature. He is turned and when he rises, Father Paul schools him on his new life. Tormented by the idea, Riley finds Erin and takes her out in the water where he tells her the story and waits for the sun to rise. She watches as he bursts in to flame and turns to ash.

Armed with the knowledge of Father Paul's plan, Erin seeks support from Sarah and her mother. They bring the information to the Sheriff who is skeptical but resigns himself to attend the churches midnight Easter mass.

At mass, Father Paul confesses that he has lied about his identity. He explains that an angel came to him on the road to Damascus and that he, like the biblical Saul, was transformed. Thus, taking the name Paul as the Apostle did. He tells them that they need to take a leap of faith and end their lives so that they, like Jesus. can be resurrected. He demonstrates this by having Sturge (Matt Biedel) drink the poison and die before them. The Sheriff grabs his son and attempts to leave but the creature, cloaked in a golden robe, is blocking the door.

Sturge's resurrection and the sight of the creature are all it takes for most of the congregation to accept and drink the rat poison that was prepared for them by Beverly. Mildred shoots Father Paul which angers the creature causing it to fly away with her. Those who haven't been convinced try frantically to retreat but Beverly has locked the doors. When the dead rise, they feed on the living turning the church in to a chaotic blood bath.

Erin, Sarah, Warren, Annie Flynn, Leeza, and the Sheriff escape and take shelter in Erin's home. Certain that they aren't going to survive, they devise a plan to burn all of the fishing boats so the newly created vampires can't move to the mainland and infect others. They tell Leeza and Warren that they need to get to Warrens row boat and leave the island until dawn.

Mildred returns to the church where it is revealed that she and Monsignor Pruitt were lovers and that he is Sarah's father. He explains that he orchestrated this plan to save her because he couldn't live with the idea of losing her and that he knows now that he made a grave mistake. A revelation made too late.

Beverly, consumed with the power to orchestrate the end times burns the entire island while the resistors burn all of the boats and the church. In the end, there is nowhere for the vampires to hide from the dawn.

Comments

Liza from USA on October 12, 2021:

Interesting. I wonder would it be series or a stand-alone movie. Thanks for the info. I will look up more on that note.

Bonnie Taylor (author) from Louisiana on October 12, 2021:

I agree there could have been more. I hear Flanagan is working on an Edgar Allen Poe adaption next. That should be a good one, as well.

Liza from USA on October 12, 2021:

I watched the show with my husband. Luckily, he is a fan of the horror genre. But, yes I agree that there was a lot to consume. I wish it was longer than seven-episode though.

Bonnie Taylor (author) from Louisiana on October 12, 2021:

I did the same! I had to watch more than once because there was so much to consume. I saw a lot of things that I missed the first time through.

Liza from USA on October 12, 2021:

I watched the series about two weeks ago. I glued watching on the whole seven episodes in a day. It's one of my favorite horror series from Mike Flanagan. Probably, I will watch it again on Halloween!

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