Fred 🇵🇷’s review published on Letterboxd:
“Suffering can be a gift. It all just depends on us. What we do with it, how we react to it.”
Truly, in every way, electrifying.
That’s the best way to describe what very well may be Mike Flanagan’s greatest creation yet. ‘MIDNIGHT MASS’ rumbles with methodical thunder in its veins. Thunder that initially pulses as it envelops you in an ethereal cloud of flashing light and uncertainty. By the time it’s encroaching bolts surround you, you can’t help but behold in awe as it strikes you with feverish vigor.
We’ve all had at-times frightening doubts as we reflect on our place not only in this world but in the one beyond and while many films and series have sought to present the thorny exploration of faith in earnest, Flanagan’s has achieved this in a way that frankly stunned me. Stories about faith are inherently daunting to approach because they demand a certain ambition that rarely meets them. That’s not the case with ‘MIDNIGHT MASS’. Here, Flanagan and his team meet this challenge head on with the kind of ambition that throttles the senses. As deliriously addictive as this was to watch, there is so much concerted craft behind every glance, every frame, and every sound that it almost feels wrong to binge it just to sate a craving for answers to its mysteries. Almost.
This is an awesome journey for all of us to experience. It’s a journey for the exquisitely-written characters within and for the very human audience going on this voyage with them. What at first seems simply to suggest eventually becomes appropriately revelatory, deeply moving, and even invigorating. Flanagan and his co-writers wring out age old truths while merging them with pitch perfect observations on the everything from finding faith to the true meaning of Christian love. It’s all heavy stuff and even though it involves a tightrope act of balancing such multi-layered universal themes with the unmistakably genre delights he loves to play with, it’s all handled remarkably, soberly, and thoughtfully.
The writer-director’s characters here rank among the most memorable I’ve met in years. As tremendously effective as the words behind them are, this cast is more than up to doing those words justice. I loved the cast from top to bottom but if I had to pick two standouts for me (out of what feels like an army of standouts) they’d be Hamish Linklater and, my personal favorite, Samantha Sloyan. I hope this show sweeps the Emmys (though I won’t hold my breath that something this unique is appreciated at all) but more than that, I hope its success bestows this cast with more open doors through which they can continue to spread their talents.
It’s been a long time since I felt this absorbed in something on this many levels and this challenged by the notions it presents. This is a really special thing that doesn’t pull its punches, opting for the full metal treatment and leaving you with the kind of quiet reflection you want to just sit with as you acknowledge how much it all resonated with you. The result of this masterpiece fully unfolded is nothing short of breathtaking.
P.S. Another year, another flawless Flanagan showstopper for me to wow at. The way I snapped to attention when I saw it was up on my Netflix queue.
P.P.S. As a lifelong Catholic, everything about this knocked me on my ass. It's all flawlessly structured to make us former Sunday school kids curl up into a ball and rock back and forth. I love it.