The allure of a Mike Flanagan film or series is irresistible for horror nerds like myself. And considering the beautifully made The Haunting of Bly Manor and slightly disappointing yet gripping The Haunting of Hill House, I most certainly had to watch Midnight Mass. Honestly, it wasn’t exactly what I had expected, but I wasn’t disappointed.
Midnight Mass (TV Mini Series) | Analysis + Review
If you haven’t watched Midnight Mass on Netflix but plan to, I’d suggest you stop reading beyond this point. This article is full of spoilers, and this show loses all its charm if you already know what to expect. A reason why I refused to watch the trailer before watching the show!
Exploring A New Paranormal Dimension – An Angel!
From the bent-neck lady to the lady in the lake, we have come a long way when it comes to iconic otherworldly creatures. This time, there are no lurking ghosts or spirits of the departed. Instead, Midnight Mass introduces us to an “angel”.
If you have watched the miniseries, there is no point denying that Father Paul’s “angel” was more like a demonic entity. It is remarkable how the show makes no attempt to keep this fact a secret for too long. Just a couple of episodes in, and you begin to guess that there is something awfully amiss about the new pastor in the lazy island called Crockett.
He brings along a series of miracles and promises of a better life now and in the hereafter. He talks about eternity and resurrection over and over again. While his sermons may move the believing hearts, they also carry an air of suspicion for those with a nose to sniff out danger.
What Exactly Is This “Angel”?
Father Paul repeatedly talks to himself and his allies about the “angel’s gifts” and “whispers”. He mentions how the angel can make feelings of remorse melt away. He goes to the extent of covering up a murder by calling it “divine intervention”. But we all know that no angel nor God works that way. Especially not when it demands blood as sustenance!
If you couldn’t guess it yet, we are clearly dealing with a vampire. And not the glamorous, modish kind but more of the original ones who are rumoured to have walked the earth centuries ago. The fascinating part is that there are signs and hints sprinkled throughout the initial episodes:
- Teens wandering alone at night notice a giant bird-like creature scaling the sky above Crockett.
- We hear cats wailing in pain.
- Many people are shown to witness a pair of eyes glowing in the dark.
- Endless bodies of cats wash up on the shore one morning, all drained of blood!
- Father Paul seems overtly particular about communion, ensuring that more and more people consume the “blood” of Christ.
- Halfway through the show, Father Paul suddenly develops some kind of severe allergy to sunlight.
If you are familiar with classic vampire lore, you would easily understand these tell-tale signs. If not, let me spell it out for you.
- Vampires need blood to survive.
- Their eyes glow in the dark, like a nocturnal animal’s.
- They have been rumoured to shapeshift into wolves or bats. In some representations, they may even appear in the form of a bat-human hybrid.
- Drinking vampire blood and dying with it in your system brings you back as a vampire. You must then feed on blood to complete the transition. The only downside? The sun would kill you!
- Vampire blood has healing properties and anti-ageing qualities. Perhaps that is what confused Monsignor Pruitt/Father Paul and made him believe that an angel indeed blessed him.
What makes the entire plot so unique is the way Midnight Mass revisits the concept of vampirism without using the word “vampire” even once! It’s as if no one knows about the existence of such a species. At some point, it gets thrilling because, as part of the audience, you know something that the main characters don’t. You would find yourself wondering what is wrong with these people. Why can’t they see the obvious? Why can’t the priest recognize the signs of undead evil? Why is no one crying “vampire” out loud?
That brings us to the second part of our analysis.
How Could Monsignor Pruitt Make Such A Mistake?
If you watch closely and pay attention to Pruitt/Paul’s words in the final episode, the answer is right there, pouring out of his mouth. He wanted to believe in something better. He was so desperate for a second chance at life that he was ready to deny the obvious. He wasn’t afraid of death in particular. His fear was more to do with:
- Losing his daughter and the love of his life without a chance to know them.
- Fading into oblivion without exploring the possibility of a second chance.
As we get to know the priest’s intentions, we can’t help get angry but also are compelled to feel pity. The poor man probably had his heart in the right place. Probably, he did see hope. True, his actions were entirely selfish, and there was absolutely no need to trick an entire population into drinking vampire blood and attending church service that clearly spelt out their doom. The way he exposed the entire town to an unspeakable evil cannot be pardoned. However, we must remember a handful of facts before judging him.
- When he was attacked by the bloodsucking creature, he was demented, on the verge of death. He was hopeless and lost in the middle of a sandstorm. What had seemed like darkness and the end ultimately revived his youth, his senses, his memory. But who is to say that it also revived his common sense? Perhaps he really did not realize what he was unleashing on Crockett Island. Perhaps he wanted his beloved parishioners to experience the same hope and healing that he had experienced in that life-altering moment.
- It is also possible that he was led astray by the creature’s whispers. If we closely notice the symbolism and imagery throughout the show, the contrast, as well as the similarity between angels and demons, is hard to miss. Moreover, if we see that creature as a manifestation of the devil, the whispers again are hard to escape from. It can be interpreted as giving in to temptations encouraged by the supernatural.
- Another possibility is that he was actually under a spell. Vampire lore also tells us about hypnosis and other mind-control powers exhibited by these bloodsucking entities. Therefore, we cannot deny the possibility that the father was hypnotized throughout, acting like the vampire’s puppet all along.
Tying Up Loose Ends – Midnight Mass Ending Explained!
Midnight Mass is a straightforward, exceptionally well-made take on vampirism. Additionally, it explores various ideas of spirituality, religion, the afterlife and the human tendency to disguise evil as good just to suit some personal agenda. The makers of the show have wrapped it up wonderfully, without leaving any obvious loose ends. Since it is a limited miniseries, it most likely will not be revived for a second season. Honestly, it doesn’t need to.
The Beauty Of Sacrifice
The way an agnostic teenager, a Muslim sheriff, an atheist doctor, and several believing Christians come together to save people they don’t even know is one of the most compelling parallels drawn to remind us of the passion of Christ.
In Erin Greene’s words,
“It isn’t about us anymore. It’s about everyone else in the world. Dying for people we haven’t even met. No greater love than that.”
It is one of the most heart-breaking and heart-warming moments in the show when Riley chooses to burn in the sun to convince Erin of the impending evil. A victim himself, he chooses to sacrifice himself for the greater good. And the ripple effect has us watching Erin do something similar.
Instead of fleeing the island for good, she chooses to try and save Riley’s parents and the whole island at large. She chooses to talk about the horrors instead of putting herself first. Similarly, Dr. Gunning and her mother choose to attend the doomed midnight mass in the hope of alerting and saving the parishioners from a fate similar to Riley’s or Monsignor Pruitt’s.
Sheriff Hassan chooses to accompany his misled son to the doomed mass, too, keeping aside his conviction of Dr Gunning’s testimony.
The examples of sacrifice and kindness go on and on. But the way this small group comes together, in the end, to ensure no vampire makes it out alive, fully aware that they wouldn’t be able to escape either, is one act that takes the cake.
Two kids – Warren Flynn and Leeza Scarborough, are the only humans who make it out alive after the events of Midnight Mass’s finale. As we see, the kids manage to set fire to all modes of escaping the island, helping their parents and the sheriff from a distance. All goes according to their plan, and even though the good adults go up in flames or drop down dead, we can take solace in the fact that at least two kids made it through.
What Happens To The “Angel”?
While the “angel” is not shown to die, we can safely assume it wouldn’t survive the devastating injuries to its wings. As the island crumbles to a bloody end, the wounded creature makes its final flight away. Since the first rays of the morning sun are already shown to make an appearance, it is unlikely that the creature would manage to fly to any hiding spot before collapsing or turning to ashes.
The Final Moments Of Midnight Mass!
The show comes to a conclusion that is disorienting at first. But once we make peace with it, we know it is for the best. The final moments have been written so beautifully and executed so well that they deliver the intended impact perfectly.
We see everything burn up, leaving no place for the infected humans to hide. We also witness gut-wrenching emotions as they come to their senses after causing mass destruction. It is relieving to watch the misled be finally able to see the light and the corrupt Bev Keane meet the end she deserved.
The most tear-jerking sight is to watch Ali return to the path of God and offering his final prayers right next to his dying father. The duo prays side by side, one last time, as others sing a final song outside the accursed parish.
Then the sun comes up, and abruptly, all singing stops. Hassan takes his final breath from the fatal bullet wound. Ali, along with everyone else on the island, turns to dust. It is truly the end of evil and resurrection of hope as the lazy island of Crockett gets a clean slate, quite literally.