Mike Flanagan, creator of “The Haunting of Hill House” and “Midnight Mass,” has come out with yet another horror TV series. But does Flanagan’s latest project, “The Midnight Club,” rank among his finest creations? Let’s find out!
Released on Oct. 7, “The Midnight Club” is the story of a group of teenagers who live together at Brightcliffe, a home that serves as a hospice. They are all terminally ill, most of them having cancer, and one having AIDS. They strive to live out their final days without getting buried in medical procedures and instead, enjoy each other’s company.
To pass the time, Ilonka (Iman Benson) explores the many mysteries of Brightcliffe, leading her to stumble upon the Midnight Club. At midnight, all the residents, Kevin (Igby Rigney), Amesh (Sauriyan Sapkota), Natsuki (Aya Furukawa), Cheri (Adia), Spence (William Chris Sumpter), Sandra (Annarah Cymone) and Anya (Ruth Codd), gather in secrecy in the hospice’s library with a bottle of wine to share terrifying stories. One of the main reasons for the club is the shared agreement that whoever passes away first will try to get in touch with the other members from the afterlife.
However, none of the members’ scary stories is your classic ghost tale. No, they are superior to that. The stories range from made-up tales to ones that offer real insight into the members’ lives. Like when Natsuki tells the first story, continuing the conversation she had with Ren (played by a version of Spence). The spooky scene begins when Ren stumbles into an unknown street and is faced with a girl’s calm voice questioning “Are you lost?” which transforms into an endless string of jump scares with her screaming visage appearing in every direction Ren looks. But it’s hard to focus on a ghost story, real or not when there are ghosts like the frightening old lady and creepy older man prowling the hospice.
Not to mention that modern mysteries are being investigated, like a cult that thinks the hospice is situated on an ancient healing site. But let’s move on to why this series is notably the least favored among Flanagan’s works.
The season finale of “The Midnight Club” leaves viewers concerned about the characters and uncovers secrets that hint at a second season, unlike other Flanagan shows on Netflix that wrapped up everything.
The actors did give what appeared to be rather strong performances. However as TIME magazine put it, “Lovable as they are, and despite solid performances from the young cast, these characters are mostly one-dimensional.”
Additionally, the structure of the series is not as great as in his other works. Flanagan’s attempt to adapt a variety of short horror stories was clumsily divided into several portions throughout many episodes. However, one story did stand out: “The Road to Nowhere,” which told the story of one teen’s suicide attempt and was sincerely moving.
The show’s underlying message is quite beautiful. As a Roger Ebert critic put it, “This is a show that’s not about death as much as it is the things around the end of life, and what can’t be taken away: memories, stories, love.” But that goes without saying that its message can occasionally be problematic for viewers due to the gimmicky plot elements needed to improve the storylines.
But it is important to remember that this series is about teens and primarily aimed at younger adult viewers.
All things considered, “The Midnight Club” seems to be the subject of a love/hate relationship. Maybe the show’s second season will have a stronger plot and less troublesome storylines than the first.
You can stream “The Midnight Club” on Netflix.