Four years after drunkenly committing vehicular manslaughter, a dried out Riley Flynn (Zach Gilford) is released from prison and returns to his home on the sparsely populated Crockett Island. The island is stricken by poverty and home to people who feel like they have no other place to go. And like many places where hope is in short supply, much of the community rallies itself through faith.
However, Riley isn’t the only relatively new face on the island. After years of faithful service at St. Patrick’s, Monsignor Pruitt, having taken ill and returned to the mainland, is replaced by Father Paul (Hamish Linklater). As Lent begins, Father Paul brings to Crockett Island a renewed belief in the resurrection, not just for Jesus, but for the citizens of the island themselves … and he’s brought far more than that.
“Midnight Mass” is, by Flanagan’s own admission, a story about his own sobriety. More than that, though, it’s a Socratic dialogue — the argument between faith and reason, the things we believe versus the things we can actually see. “Midnight Mass” takes the things we believe purely on faith and manifests them in ways both ghastly and wondrous.
“Midnight Mass” is a seven-hour Serenity Prayer, a meditation designed to help us accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference. It’s dense and often unrelenting, but one thing it isn’t is a ghost story. Flanagan dives in with a wholly different type of monster this time while retaining his unflinching examination of the human condition. And like all good horror, it is scary in ways we don’t always expect.
All seven episodes of “Midnight Mass” are streaming on Netflix now.