My Latest Obsession
MIDNIGHT MASS on Netflix
Here on the Isle of Glass, we love a good story. I finished watching the 7 episode series Midnight Mass on Netflix on Wednesday night, and I can't stop thinking about it.
For this born-and-raised Catholic girl, there's an immediate draw to a series that addresses faith, especially of the Catholic variety, and twists it to include the supernatural, a vast subject I've studied my entire life. This contemplative series, created by Mike Flanagan (known for his many sinister creations, including The Haunting of Hill House, also on Netflix), confronts questions about the depth of one's faith, the idea and presence of miracles in the modern world, the shadow side of human nature and its repercussions, and other struggles of conscience and choice that all of us deal with in different capacities in our lives. It introduces the viewer to an isolated island community filled with relatable and intriguing characters, and it is through their eyes that we experience the events of the present story that call for reckoning with many aspects of the past. As both a writer and an actor, there is nothing better to me than the opportunity to experience a well-developed character that invites me in and slowly reveals an aching, complicated heart. This show is full of these kinds of characters and their realities, with many scenes of soul-baring conversations and other elements that create tension and chemistry in the overall story. For some viewers, these longer dialogue exchanges and monologues may seem tedious, but for me, they never became so because of the deeper subjects of repentance, love, and faith that they addressed. These are issues I contemplate regularly. Perhaps it's because I'm a minister myself that I feel so strongly connected to Father Paul (Hamish Linklater), the new priest in town who clearly cares and wants to do what's best for the dying fishing community. Perhaps it's because I'm a survivor of abuse that I feel so connected to Erin (Kate Siegel), the young woman who has returned to her hometown after leaving a horrible relationship with the hope of birthing (both literally and figuratively) a new life. And maybe it's because I have regrets of my own that I empathize with Riley (Zach Gilford), a young man that made a terrible mistake and can't forgive himself for it. Along with so many other interesting and vibrant characters, these three build the mystery and the vortex of events and emotions that take us deeper into all the hidden elements of this complicated story.
I don't want to give away too much here for those that decide they'd like to experience this drama for themselves. It's fair to warn that this series is a slow burner, one that starts at a measured pace and continues it as secrets are revealed little by little, ratcheting up the tension until the middle episodes, where the uneasiness we've been feeling as viewers starts to become more reasonable and even more unsettling. For those with more delicate and/or empathic makeups, this story may hurt your heart and assault your sensitivities. It does come to violence, and you will be scared. But overall, for me, the discoveries that the characters make about themselves over the course of the events -- what mistakes they've made, how deep and real their love for others is, how they feel about death and the afterlife, why they believe what they do, and how they justify their actions -- make the entire journey satisfying and unforgettable. It's the kind of psychological horror that I truly appreciate, and I don't think I've seen another show that has made me think so very hard about religion, faith, and choices as Midnight Mass has.
Highly recommended. If you watch and you'd like to discuss it, please leave a comment. Be sure to mark it with a "spoilers ahead" tag if you reveal any secrets in your comments.
Much love and many blessings to all.