Even if he didn’t adapt Stephen King, screenwriter and director Mike Flanagan has created a successful niche around stories that feel like they could be adapted from Stephen King.
Most good horror comes from an allegorical play, where the thing that scares us might look like a murderous clown or a ghost or a magical traveler with a hat. funny, but it’s really addiction or grief or whatever is repressed. Like King, Flanagan has a gift for sometimes pushing those undertones too far from the surface. A fan of the genre may be disappointed at first – “But wait, I was promised electronic killer hamsters, and you are giving me a 45-minute AA meeting” – only to scare them off when the electronic killer hamster – who devours our heroic donor alive.
Mass at midnight
A meditation on faith and religion than is really scary, but very committed to his faith.
Flanagan’s latest Netflix limited series – his third in four years, following hauntings at Hill House and Bly Manor respectively – may be the furthest he’s ever pushed into content. hidden so far and it’s possibly his least intimidating offer. Mass at midnight (overcome Necessary things with another King story, which I will not name so as not to spoil anything) is not supported by a clear allegorical support beam. It’s about grief and addiction, but most of all, it’s an exploration of organized religion.
This is clearly the work of someone who has taken a deep inventory of his spiritual upbringing. That certainly won’t cause some viewers to call it a weird (often intentional) violation and others to lament how often it ignores the need for the horror genre in favor of the horror genre. lengthy monologues about beliefs and rituals (which, possibly, is intentional). I find it consistently committed and admirable, even when it tests my patience. Whatever your reaction to the show and some people will absolutely hate it, those reactions will come from a very private and pristine place, like the one Flanagan mined to make it.
The seven-episode series contains details that Netflix doesn’t want to spoil, so allow me to tiptoe. The series is set on Crockett Island, population 127. Crockett has never grown exactly, but since the coastal oil spill, jobs have dried up and residents have had to leave. That hasn’t stopped a pair of prodigal children from returning. Riley (Zach Gilford) has recently been pardoned after serving a sentence for the crime that haunted his dreams, and is reunited with his parents (Henry Thomas and Kristin Lehman), who feel his departure from Crockett is important. a betrayal. Erin (Kate Siegel) will take over from her late mother as the island’s teacher, looking for a fresh start to coincide with her pregnancy.
Additional alterations have come in the form of Father Paul (Hamish Linklater), a prestigious priest replacing the island’s longtime host deity. The impending miracle will affect residents including the mayor’s paralyzed daughter (Annarah Cymone) (Michael Trucco), the town’s drunkard (Robert Longstreet), the local doctor (Annabeth Gish) and the scene. muslim chief (Rahul Kohli) who worries when those miracles create a wave of devotion, then fervor and then, if you wait patiently enough, the strange and the double even scarier.
As any reader of the Bible can tell you, between its endless “conveniences” and codes of conduct, the Good Book is much more than fantasy. There is a protagonist who talks through burning bush and turns women into columns of salt. There are resurrections, wrestling angels, people being swallowed by fish – and that’s before you get to whatever the hell is happening in the Book of Revelation. This is not necessarily a deep reading of the Bible. There are more than one point at which Mass at midnight it feels like a bit of a boring worship boy’s job to kill time by realizing that if you literally translate the text, the Bible will be completely R-rated and very difficult to review in a single way. serious.
That, of course, is where faith comes in, as well as covenants passed down through hundreds of generations. Any fictional story driven by the supernatural, whether it’s a horror story or not, needs a pause in skepticism. Religion requires a purer form of belief, an outright purchase rather than mere skepticism. The ambitious challenge Flanagan set for himself during Midnight Mass was that he was applying religious standards to a story that became more and more bizarre as it progressed. He may not be asking viewers to believe that the events on Crockett Island could be real, but Flanagan needs you to accept that in this world, the inhabitants want or need to believe they are real, each with their own. own reasons. This is a place, after all, where every character is thwarted by some measure of isolation and seeks some form of communion, be it the blood and body of their savior, or simply community, as in the consolation of a support group.
It’s not always the easiest to sell, in part because at some point something monstrous is revealed and it looks like a cross between BoJack HorsemanVincent Adultman (three boys stacked inside a trench coat) and Slenderman. By the time the film reveals the character’s true genre purpose, most viewers will either be completely disliked or completely engaged. The latter requires a willingness to embrace the many climactic episodes of bloody chaos punctuated by 15-minute dialogues about alcoholism, the afterlife, and double New Testament interpretations. when it goes to a deep level and sometimes falls into the “duh” level.
In fact, it’s probably not quite as dry, because the fifth episode contains one of those gabions of endless beauty that, in this case, makes me roll my eyes and then ends with a possible scene is ridiculous and instead leveled me. Given the specific Flanagan style, I’m not sure you’d necessarily have the latter without the former. The same goes for a finale – Flanagan once again exploits some of Stephen King’s concluding jokes, not necessarily the best – suffocated with partially purposeful giggles, but the ending ended with unexpected force.
Flanagan, who directed the entire series and wrote or co-wrote all of its episodes, achieves a lot of the sincerity he’s after – in large part because he’s assembled a team of reflections. his commitment. However, that doesn’t make for great acting.
In his established troupe, Flanagan continued to masterfully play to the strengths of Siegel (also his wife). She and Gish are moving in their characters’ quiet moments as well as their explosive moments; There is very little interlacing in this series. Flanagan veterans are Longstreet, very likely to ruminate on the scene in ways that almost feel grounded, and Samantha Sloyan, the embodiment of Crockett’s startling fervor, delivering bigger performances. , additional. Of Flanagan’s newcomers, Gilford and Linklater stood out the most, the former excelling at playing the dreary to the point of helplessness, and the latter delivering more than half a dozen lengthy speeches. with the enthusiasm of a missionary.
In typical colorful mode, the shot is a star on its own, whether bringing to life the diminishing primacy of island locations or performing one of Flanagan’s trademark single shots. However, the director doesn’t paint the climax thanks to his reliance on haunting thunderstorms or night terrors. Fewer of the terrorist plots laid on the ground than in The Haunting of Hill House, but there are images here that are evocative, sad, or unsettling enough to almost make a 66-minute episode on its own. Flanagan’s next challenge will be to find a way to turn one of those two people sitting on that couch into a movie.
More than faith in the events of the show, Mass at midnight requires faith in Flanagan and a seriousness with his Stephen King’s inner purpose. Even if the miniseries doesn’t land its scary, its ecclesiastical weirdness is something to mull over, whether you’re a nerd or a doubtful Thomas.
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