There’s no doubting that Mike Flanagan is one of the hottest names when it comes to horror filmmaking at the moment.
The writer/director has previously created two acclaimed series for Netflix – The Haunting of Hill House and follow-up The Haunting of Bly Manor, in addition to successful big-screen Stephen King adaptations Gerald’s Game and Doctor Sleep.
Now he’s back with something a little different: a brand new, wholly original show titled Midnight Mass.
The series has a few cast members in common with the Haunting series, but is otherwise completely unconnected, telling the story of an isolated island community and their reactions to the arrival of a charismatic and enigmatic priest.
If you dare, read on for everything you need to know about Midnight Mass – which is unlikely to be as Christmassy as the title suggests.
Midnight Mass release date
Allowing plenty of time for a Halloween binge, all seven episodes of Midnight Mass will be released on Netflix on Friday 24th September 2021.
Production was set to begin in March 2020 but was soon shut down due to the pandemic, eventually resuming in August.
After a socially distant shoot adhering to strict COVID-19 protocols, Midnight Mass finally wrapped in December 2020 – and writer-director Mike Flanagan was certainly happy with how filming went.
That's a wrap on MIDNIGHT MASS. It has been an extraordinary, unprecedented production, and I cannot be prouder of this amazing cast and crew. In fact - and I do not say this lightly - this has been the best production experience of my career.— Mike Flanagan (@flanaganfilm) December 16, 2020
Midnight Mass cast
Joining this scary service is Good Girls star Zach Gilford as disgraced young man Riley Flynn, who returns to the isolated community of Crockett Island at the same time as the charismatic but mysterious priest Father Paul, played by Legion’s Hamish Linklater.
Flanagan has a habit of bringing back actors from his previous projects – and Katie Segel, Rahul Kohli, Henry Thomas, Alex Essoe, Annabeth Gish, Robert Longstreet and Samantha Sloyan have all signed up for more scares after previously appearing in the Haunting series.
Thomas and Lehman appear to be playing Riley’s parents Ed and Annie Flynn, with Rigney as his younger brother Warren. Kohli will be playing Crockett Island’s Sheriff Hassan – who will have more than the odd criminal to contend with – while Abburi stars as his son Ali.
Gish will be playing the island’s doctor Sarah Gunning, who will likely need to give Siegel’s Erin Greene a check-up after she has quite the pregnancy scare in the trailer.
Midnight Mass plot: What happens?
The seven-episode series follows events on Crockett Island after a new priest shows up and starts performing what appear to be miracles – with sick people being healed and the elderly becoming young again.
But while some people react very enthusiastically to Father Paul’s ways, some are more skeptical. That includes Riley Flynn, a non-believer who has himself recently returned to the island after serving a four-year prison sentence for killing a girl in a drunk-driving incident, and his old school-mate Erin Greene who is pregnant and has recently escaped an abusive relationship.
The official synopsis reads, “Midnight Mass tells the tale of a small, isolated island community whose existing divisions are amplified by the return of a disgraced young man (Zach Gilford) and the arrival of a charismatic priest (Hamish Linklater).
“When Father Paul’s appearance on Crockett Island coincides with unexplained and seemingly miraculous events, a renewed religious fervor takes hold of the community – but do these miracles come at a price?”
Is Midnight Mass based on a book?
No – while Flanagan has turned to the work of horror icons such as Henry James, Shirley Jackson and Stephen King for his previous TV series and films, this tale is spun entirely from his own mind.
That being said, Flanagan has said that there is one book he took some inspiration from when crafting the series: the Bible.
Speaking to Vanity Fair, he said, “It’s impossible to separate the Bible as a book from horror literature. It has everything in there. It’s overtly and unapologetically espousing supernatural, horrific events left and right. Even the hero of the story—God, the embodiment of love—drowns the world when he gets angry enough in the Old Testament.”
Midnight Mass trailer
It’s only brief, but this teaser showcases some excellent production values and is still suitably scary – who knew the word “why” could be so haunting.
Midnight Mass: is it part of the Haunting series?
Sorry, Hill House and Bly Manor fans – creator Mike Flanagan has repeatedly denied that Midnight Mass is part of the Haunting series.
It’s possible the two are indeed connected somehow and that the reveal is intended as a surprise at the end of the series, but this seems unlikely given that Midnight Mass is a wholly original story and not based on a classic horror novel like the Haunting series.
Not only is Midnight Mass an original project, but it is a deeply personal one for writer, director and executive producer Flanagan, who drew upon his experiences as an altar boy at New York’s Governors Island for the series.
This one is special. Cannot wait for you to see it. pic.twitter.com/z7elBvERSb— Mike Flanagan (@flanaganfilm) August 9, 2021
Despite no narrative crossover, the Haunting series had a clear mission statement of loosely adapting famous novels following the residents of a haunted house, so linking Midnight Mass seems unnecessary as an original and personal production that looks to instead explore themes of community and religion.
The only connective tissue seems to be the return of select cast members, but recurring actors seems to be a staple across Flanagan’s entire filmography and not necessarily a hint of a link to the Haunting series.