Midnight Mass’s Mike Flanagan talks about religion and this big reveal

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Netflix's Midnight Mass promotional poster features artwork depicting the main characters, with Hamish Linklater above them and a church to the right.

Picture: Netflix

by netflix Midnight Mass was a deeply personal story for the creator Mike Flanagan. Fresh out of his success Haunted duology, the new horror series was a chance to delve into his past as a Roman Catholic and explore the terror that can come from religion and faith. In a pair of new features, Flanagan and executive producer Trevor Macy happily delve into the development of the series.

The more general of the two videos shows that Flanagan is quite candid about how his past influenced the show, particularly Zach Gilford’s character Riley. “Back when I was drinking, there were times when I felt the consequences wouldn’t apply to me,” he explained. But for Riley, these consequences made, and the show sees him dealing with this trauma as he returns to his hometown of Crockett Island. If that wasn’t enough, the sudden appearance of the Wandering Priest, Father Paul (Hamish Linklater) could harm the city more than it helps.

“Faith is a sign that says who you are,” Macy added, “and so is what you fear.” Focusing on an isolated city in the midst of a religious resurgence, the couple wanted to explore both sides of the faith. “This is the story of the community’s death,” Flanagan added. Going further, he called what the people of Crockett go through in the series as “corruption” in their belief system that gradually spreads to envelop everyone on the island. As with most things involving religion, Flanagan and Macy aren’t really looking for a firm answer, and the latter described this as the show’s philosophy: “Ask questions, don’t give answers. With any luck, these questions stick to the viewer… and terrify hell too. It’s a Mike Flanagan show, after all.

And speaking of fear …

Image of article titled Mike Flanagan Talks Midnight Mass' Catholic Influences and Its Greatest Mystery

The great mystery that surrounds Midnight Mass’ the first half is a bit thing hunt down Crockett Island soon after Father Paul arrived in town. In episodes three and four, he is revealed in all his glory: a vampire, considered by Paul to be an angel and from whom he soon begins to give blood to the rest of the city to drink during Communion. Why a vampire? You can thank the Catholic Church and Bram Stoker for this. “The parallels between drinking the blood of Jesus and what I read in Dracula were inevitable, ”admitted Flanagan.

Where more recent interpretations of the vampire lord have melancholy summer or downright sexy, Flanagan and Macy wanted to avoid that. Flanagan called him “ugly,” and Macy added that while he’s smart enough to get others to drink his blood, there’s no long term plan for the Winged Beast.

When it came to the creation of the Angel, Flanagan and Macy knew they wanted to make as practical effects as possible. “The more practical you can be, the more the audience will feel it,” Macy said. The visual effects were primarily used to manipulate the wings, which were real, but also incredibly heavy and difficult for puppeteers. But the overall effect is one that they are proud of and want to make an impact.

Midnight Mass is available now on Netflix.


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