For the Nepali OTT audience, the most talked about topic besides Dashain for the past couple of weeks has probably been Netflix’s South Korean thriller series “Squid Game.” An average Nepali Netflix subscriber has probably talked about the series and its eccentricities on social media, at least once. So, I chose not to review it because i) You’ll probably have talked about it too much for my review to make any impact, and ii) The series is too mind-boggling for me to review in the limited space I get.
So instead of the Korean survival drama, I decided to go even darker and watch/review an American supernatural horror series called “Midnight Mass.” But first, let me reiterate how much I love mini-series because of their brevity and because they end in the same season, without leaving loose ends and making you wait another year for the next season.
Created and directed by Mike Flanagan, the miniseries Midnight Mass centers on Crockett Island—a small, isolated fishing village with a sparse population where everyone knows everyone else. The tight-knit community on the island is devoutly Catholic, except for its new sheriff, Sheriff Hassan (Rahul Kohli), and his son Ali (Rahul Abbur), who are Muslims.
In a town without many violent incidents in the past, Sheriff Hassan does have to deal with a bit of racism and also religious discrimination initially, but not for long. Bigger problems await him and the islanders. After the arrival of Father Paul Hill (Hamish Linklater), as a sudden replacement for the town’s aged Monsignor Pruitt, things start getting eerie. For starters, hundreds of dead cats—murdered—are discovered along the beach, the very next day of Father Hill’s arrival. Some island residents also start seeing a mysterious creature lurking in the shadows at night.
Quickly, incident after incident leads the townsfolk to believe there is something religious happening. Leeza Scarborough (Annarah Cymone)—who has been paralyzed after a hunting incident and has to use a wheelchair—starts walking at the behest of Father Hill at the church on Sunday Mass. This leaves the town of devout Catholics in a frenzy as they start believing in a religious revival.
Led by the church’s fervent parishioner Bev Keane (Samantha Sloyan), the residents of Crockett Island rejoice in religious fervor, only to find that they’ll soon be visited by a figure from the Bible, someone they never expected. That’s when the whole town is immersed in horrors of biblical measures, followed by deaths and grievances.
The seven episodes of Midnight Mass are named after the respective books from the Bible, starting with Genesis and ending with Revelations. Each episode unfolds systematically, in coherence with its name. The miniseries is the brainchild and reportedly a ‘passion project’ of Mike Flanagan, who has had a proven track record of scaring the audience with horror stories like “The Haunting of Hill House” and “The Haunting of Bly Manor,” both available on Netflix.
Although both his ‘Haunting’ horror series had some religious connections, with Midnight Mass, Flanagan directly enters the realm of the Christian Bible. For someone not so acquainted with the inner workings of Christianity, deciphering the conversations in the series could be a problem though. It was the same for me and I had to use Google to get some of the references. And the film also shattered my lifelong belief of what an ‘angel’ would be like. A bit of a spoiler because it’s necessary—Midnight Mass’s angel is no friend of humanity and has no feathery wings and a halo around its head.
Who should watch it?
With each episode around the one-hour mark, Midnight Mass is slow and even snoozy at times. But that’s only when you stop paying attention to every detail and projection. Otherwise, the series gives you all the expected thrills and chills. So, for lovers of the genre, some Catholic horror right after Dashain would be a good watch.
Rating: 3.5 stars
Actors: Rahul Kohli, Rahul Abburi, Samantha Sloyan
Director: Mike Flanagan
Run time: 7hrs 40mins