While updating fans about his newest Netflix release, Midnight Mass, Mike Flanagan explained how the 2021 limited series was his “favourite project so far”. That’s because it saw the perfect blend of darkness and myth with the psychological and spatial horror emanating both from supernatural elements as well as the evils of “human nature”.
After The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor, Flanagan’s obsession with death and addiction prevails as the supreme themes within the series. Midnight Mass is heavily packed with religious symbolism, imagery and allusions that constantly question the idea of belief and faith. Morality, evil, hope and darkness are some of the overarching themes that Flanagan tries ambitiously to incorporate in his work.
Starring Zach Gilford, Kate Siegel, Hamish Linklater, Henry Thomas, Rahul Kohli and more as well as a surprise cameo from Flanagan himself and Carla Gugino’s voiceover. The series, however, tends to get messy thanks to the incoherent plotline and the complicated narrative; it also tends to be long and cumbersome with seven nearly one-hour episodes.
Flanagan’s works can often be quite intimidating and incomprehensible. So, we decided to decode the biggest mysteries of Midnight Mass using seven questions:
Decoding Netflix’s Midnight Mass in 7 questions
What is the connection between Father Paul and Monsignor Pruitt?
Monsignor Pruitt disappears, and Father Paul arrives much later. Father Paul is none but the resurrected form of Monsignor Pruitt, who gets restored his younger self four decades prior. Paul is later revealed to be Sarah’s actual father, with whom her mother, Mildred, had an illicit affair.
The original vampiric Angel feeds Pruitt his blood and converts him. Pruitt even alludes to Saul, who, on the road to Damascus, met Jesus and became a devout follower of Christ and later became Apostle Paul, to refer to his situation. Father Paul wants to spread the love of God and help the people journey into the dawn of a new tomorrow. He lies to the residents until Easter Vigil when he wants to resurrect them and help them restart their lives, but his plan severely backfires.
Why were the cats mysteriously dying?
The children can be seen sneaking out of their houses and moving to another part of the island to smoke weed, drink and have fun. They complain of wild-cat infestation, and several cats are seen in the first episode of the series as the boys play truant. However, soon after the storm, hundreds of dead cats are found on the island’s shore, which makes the Sheriff think about the possible spread of an unknown virus.
The cats, however, have broken necks and are drained of blood. By the end of the series, it is easy to see that the Angel used them to satiate his thirst.
How did the Angel arrive at Crockett Island?
The Monsignor had encountered the Angel while he sought refuge in a cave from the sandstorm while separated from the holy group in Damascus. Inside the ruins of the church, the vampire-like Angel with a menacing face, steely eyes and sharp wings attacks him and later makes him drink his blood, resurrecting him.
Mike Flanagan used a lot of overhead shots to kick off an unsettling and eerie feeling. In a similar shot, the viewers can see the young Father Paul pull inside his house an enormous chest from which loud thuds can be heard. He then unlocks it. In that chest, the Angel resides before being spotted by several citizens and being mistaken for an albatross.
Why did the filmmaker introduce vampirism?
Those who are familiar with Mike Flanagan’s works are aware of the filmmaker’s innate ability to heighten the spatial and psychological horror with his premeditated slow and intense camera movements. It’s something that can be perfectly seen in The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor. However, in Midnight Mass, the filmmaker relied heavily on religious themes in an attempt to portray the coexistence of faith and horror.
He told Variety that the Bible is no different from a book of horror, as echoed by the Monsignor in the series, as it recounts various supernatural elements and stories that are terrifying and unapologetically harrowing. The love and anger of God, which is a prevalent theme in this series as well, is palpable in the Holy Bible, the beliefs of which pervades the entire film as the filmmaker desperately tries to subvert all religious beliefs.
What were the miracles that took place after Father Paul’s arrival?
As soon as Father Paul arrived, mysterious occurrences and miracles started to occur, convincing the devout believers of his divine prowess. From Leeza, who lost her ability to walk thanks to a stray bullet, being able to walk to Mildred Gunning, an old woman suffering from dementia, growing younger by the day and getting restored to her original self, various miracles took place on the island.
While Erin quite tragically and miraculously lost her baby despite not having miscarried, the doctor, Sarah Gunning later seemingly finds a scientific explanation to it all, attributing it to a blood disorder arising from the intentional spread of the contagion. Father Paul was actually infecting all their bloodstreams with the blood of the angel that he mixed into the sacramental wine.
Who was heartless enough to kill Pike?
Pike was the adorable black dog who belonged to the alcoholic Joe Collie. He was called a “menace” by Beverley Keane when he barked at her. Although Collie explained that it was just Pike’s way of greeting someone, Keane was not convinced. During the town’s Easter Crock-Pot, the dog was fed a poisoned hotdog that led to his tragic demise, leaving behind a shattered Collie.
It was later revealed that Keane had been stockpiling illegal rat poison. Erin Greene and Sheriff Hassan both suspected her of foul play. It was evident to the audience as a shot of the hem of a floral dress was seen as an unknown person gave Pike the hotdog at the fair. Keane was later seen wearing the same dress as she gathered around the dead dog’s corpse to display fake distress.
What happens to Crockett Island at the end?
In the end, it is shown that the plan to usher in the dawn of a new tomorrow with resurrected good and faithful residents backfired. When Monsignor witnesses the destruction and chaos he unleashes, he is distraught and sets the church on fire after witnessing his daughter’s death. In the act of rebellion, the Sheriff, Erin and Ali, the Sheriff’s son, set the recreation centre on fire while the boats and any other means of escape get burned to the ground as well. To prevent the angel from wreaking further havoc on the mainland, Erin slices gashes into his wings.
All the residents of the island perish as they combust into flames under the sun. Before that, they all stand together and sing hymns that signify the presence of hope amidst darkness. The sole survivors are Warren and Leeza, who witness the destruction of the island. As all miracles are reversed, including Leeza losing her ability to walk once again, the duo waits on the boat, witnessing Crockett Island get doused in the fire.