Little can be complained about the fact that, after The Curse of Hill House (2018), based on the homonymous novel by Shirley Jackson (1959), and The Curse of Bly Manor (2020), which adapts the most famous by Henry James ( 1898), the American director Mike flanagan it has been won that we want to see the new horror miniseries that he makes for Netflix. Now touch Meit’s midnight (2021), which is counted without a doubt among the best from this season.
Perhaps no one had said that his projects would cause us excitement just a few years ago, as he released his failed feature films. Being eleven to date, we can only count two among the only ones that work and really stand out: Gerald’s Game (2017) and Doctor Sleep (2019), with which it was proposed to bring the two novels of the same title to the big screen written by Stephen King (1992, 2013).
Between restlessness and horror in ‘Midnight Mass’
The opening sequence is to the point, is eloquent, is shot with the subtle precision and the narrative economy that we know Mike Flanagan and, in his last seconds, we already find here the style of his own genre with which he worries us since The Curse of Hill House on the basis of good. Then there is a lively descriptive montage to a musical rhythm and, often, an obvious use of the nature of the environment to offer us images of great beauty.
In addition, the screenwriters have very little enough, four essential brushstrokes, to characterize the handful of island characters who, well, they could be protagonists of some other Stephen King work like The Storm of the Century (1999) or a very obvious one that is honored here. Aim is essential in this together with the proper work of the actors because, without them, these fictional beings would be blurred or superficial. What does not happen at midnight Mass.
The first episode throws us several more or less alarming mysteries but no accessible clue about what dark destinies await us in the corners of this sad decadent island. AND takes his time to develop the dramatic knotAs usual, rushing is not Mike Flanagan’s thing at all. But it peppers it with those instants of concern or horror between what is only glimpsed at the corner of the camera and what is openly shown.
A few dialogues to applaud standing up
The respectful mime in the elaboration of the story it returns at Midnight Mass, and includes zenith, aerial and sequence shots, retro tracking shots, parallel montages and more; and splendid lines of dialogue that catch and recall energetic sermons from The Last Temptation of Christ (Martin Scorsese, 1988), or Epicurus of Samos as if to lift your ass off the seat and clap your feet.
Likewise, we continue to verify how capable Mike Flanagan is of seducing the public thanks to sequences of amazing events told, in part or in whole, with a voice-over. And it really doesn’t matter if they are related to spirits, as in The Curse of Hill House and Bly Manor or they have nothing to do with them. Because it does not depend on the type of story as long as it is worthy, but on the skill of the one who tells it.
But one must equip oneself with a good cast, and the one of Midnight mass it is wonderful. Hamish Linklater, whom we have seen before incarnating the Newsroom’s Jerry Dantana (Aaron Sorkin, 2012-2014), Brice Catledge in Magic in the Moonlight (Woody Allen, 2014), and Porter Collins from The Great Gamble (Adam McKay , 2015), Larue Dollard in Fargo or Legion’s Clark DeBussy (Noah Hawley, from 2014, 2017-2019), makes a very complex role illuminating Father Paul.
AND his colleagues keep up with him, from Zach Gilford (Friday Night Lights), Kate Siegel or Samantha Sloyan (The Curse of Hill House) as Riley Flynn, Erin Greene and Beverly Keane, a character similar to Mrs. Carmody from The Fog (Stephen King, 1980), to Annabeth Gish (The X-Files), Rahul Kohli, Henry Thomas (The Curse of Bly Manor) or Kristin Lehman (Altered Carbon) as Dr. Sarah Gunning, Sheriff Hassan, Ed and Annie Flynn.
An unforgettable dramatic depth
The soundtrack of Andy Grush and Taylor Newton Stewart, who we know the most as The Newton Brothers, who are the filmmaker’s regular composers since Oculus (2013) and have contributed their own in The Professor (Tony Kaye, 2011), Dirk Gently: Holistic Research Agency (Max Landis, 2016-2017) or The Walking Dead: World Beyond (Matthew Negrete and Scott M. Gimple, since 2020), insists on instrumental minimalism string with short or long bass notes and strident sparks, sometimes piano, and breaks with choirs and selected songs of counterpoint and rigor.
Each episode of Midnight Mass concludes with a knock, the kind that impresses and favors that we want to continue watching it. Its conceptual mix is daring, and the depth with which the suffering caused by setbacks in the lives of the characters is investigated, increased by their attempts to reconcile them with religious faith in a move that reminds us of The Leftovers (Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta, 2014 -2017), which really makes the drama something worthy of our interest, in a devastating and unforgettable nightmare.