Review: ‘Midnight Mass’ is another excellent horror story from Mike Flanagan and one of the best series of the year

Midnight Mass

There’s something familiar about Crocket Island, both for myself and the average viewer. For the latter, it is that indelible image of the small American town, the tight-knit community where everyone knows everyone, and everyone puts up with everyone else’s idiosyncrasies because of that feeling of community. For the former, for me, it reminds me of home. I grew up in a small town on an island in the pacific northwest. Not as small as the Crock Pot, as it’s affectionately referred to, but much of the feeling of that small town reminds me very much of what it’s like to live in a small place –and to feel trapped there.

This is the tone struck by the setting of Midnight Mass, the new horror limited series from director Mike Flanagan. The tiny, dying island community withering away year after year. Once a community of hundreds, now reduced to dozens, the people who remain are there either by loyalty, fear, circumstance or some combination of the three. It’s a place where time seems to have stopped, where every kid has a smartphone, but every living room has a tube TV with rabbit ears, a place where change comes either very slowly or –with the right catalyst– very quickly.

At the outset of the story, two new residents arrive on the island: the prodigal son of a longtime island family returning home in disgrace after a stint in prison and a charismatic young priest. Following their arrival, things start to change very quickly for the residents. Miraculous things begin to happen, and a revival of religious faith takes place. But, of course, these miracles come with a price, and by the time Midnight Mass reveals what that price is, it will have taken you on a journey exploring family, faith, doubt, loss, and the great lengths those things will make us go to.

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