When an elderly priest with dementia decides to visit the Holy Land in Jerusalem, he returns to his little fishing village with something that will not only test the faith of his parishioners…but their very lives.
After witnessing the rise of the Evangelical Taliban here in the states, I have come to the conclusion that you will find more demons carrying a bible than saints. This may be why I truly enjoyed watching Midnight Mass. The limited series, found on Netflix, was directed by Mike Flanagan and stars Zach Gilford, Kate Siegel, Hamish Linklater, Rahul Kohli, and Henry Thomas. This was a very scary series to watch, and I will go into why towards the end of this post.
Midnight Mass begins with two events happening at the same time. Riley Flynn, a former entrepreneur in startup businesses, has just returned to Crockett Island, a New England fishing community that was crippled by a huge oil spill that played havoc with the fishing business. Riley (Zach Gilford) has spent four years of his ten-year sentence in prison. Riley had a drinking problem and, because of this, was responsible for the death of a young girl while driving under the influence. Riley is a gentle soul who has been haunted by the spirit of the girl who died. His return to Crocket Island brings about many reactions: his mom is happy, but his dad (Henry Thomas) is angry and distant. Most of the villagers avoid him except for an old girlfriend (Kate Siegel).
There is also another surprise for the people of Crockett Island, when instead of their elderly Monsignor Pruitt returning from his trip to the holy land, they are introduced to Father Paul (the amazing Hamish Linklater). Father Paul tells the congregation that Monsignor is at the hospital on the mainland, recuperating. Father Paul is a very gentle and charismatic young man, and he is filled with the Holy Spirit…or so we are led to believe. Most of the people in Crockett Island are Catholic, and with Father Paul’s arrival, things begin to improve, which is a good thing because the town is in financial straights due to the oil spill.
Riley and Father Paul become friends when the priest offers to do AA counseling in the recreation building. As understanding and kind as Father Paul is to the townsfolk, his assistant, Bev Keane (Samantha Sloyan) is a religious nut job who tries to control, belittle, and harass anyone who doesn’t believe in her interpretation of the bible. Her hatred of anyone who isn’t practicing the Catholic faith is palpable…like a sledgehammer. Riley and Sheriff Hassan (Rahul Kohli) are her favorite targets. Riley because he was in prison, and Hassan because he is Muslim.
Hamish Linklater was one of the reasons that I binge watched Midnight Mass. His Father Paul has a dark secret, which he had sneaked back inside a big wooden trunk. What is in the trunk might have something to do with dead cats washing up on the shore, but for now, Father Paul is doing his priestly duties of saying mass, counseling those who need him, and visiting the sick. One of the elderly people Father Paul visits is the mother of the town’s doctor. Dr. Sarah Gunning (Annabeth Gish) is happy for the priest to visit her mother, Mildred (Alex Essoe) who is frail and suffers from severe dementia. He brings her communion and wine. It isn’t long before the results of drinking the wine and eating the communion starts a wave of miraculous events with a young girl crippled from a gunshot wound leaving her wheelchair, to people regaining their health and youth. When people start to disappear, Riley, Dr. Gunning, and Sheriff Hassan begin an investigation with dire results, especially after Erin miscarries her baby.
Conclusion with Spoilers
There are truly religious people who are easily tricked by demons, and there are sinners that walk most willingly in the Lord’s footsteps. Father Paul has a secret. He found it in a cave in the desert. Thinking he had met an angel, the priest brings this monstrosity back home. Yes, Father Paul is Monsignor Pruitt minus the old age and dementia. His angel is anything but angelic. His angel is slowly changing the parishioners into creatures of the night.
The acting throughout Midnight Mass is superb, and we watch in shock as death and hate spread through Crockett Island. How can this be? Why don’t the people say something? Why are they so blind to what is happening in the town? They know something isn’t right with the Priest or Bev, but they still follow blindly? The funny part is this – it isn’t the ‘angel’ that scares you in this limited series. Oh no, my friend.
As scary as the ‘angel’ is in this series, he isn’t what kept me up after my binge watch. No, it was the people. People like Riley who are not perfect, but still long for God’s forgiveness, and people like Samantha Sloyan’s character. Church Lady Bev is a monster much scarier than any creature from any horror film.
There are thousands of Bev’s out there trying to force their religion and dogmas down people’s throats, while they themselves commit atrocious acts of cruelty. This is happening right now in Texas and their warped thinking is spreading…just like the infection that spreads in Midnight Mass. Hopefully, there will be thousands of people like Riley, Erin, and Sheriff Hassan to stop the crazies.
You can stream Midnight Mass on Netflix. It is worth the binge watching.