It’s October again, and that means a new Mike Flanagan horror series has premiered on Netflix. Flannagan has become a staple of the horror genre at the streaming giant, marking this his 4th entrance into his mini-series universe, adding to the vast offer the platform has this year.
Following The Haunting of House Hill, The Haunting of Bly Manor, and last year’s highly acclaimed Midnight Mass, The Midnight Club keeps up the same formula of using an ensemble cast to tell a story about death, longing, and the impending passing of time.
Flanagan’s Midnight Club
The Midnight Club is based on Christopher Pike’s novel of the same name. It follows Ilonka (Iman Benson), a young adult terminal cancer patient that decides to enroll at Brightcliffe Hospice, where she will meet fellow patients and possibly a cure for her illness. While the series is mainly based on the novel, it draws stories from his bibliography, as they appear in the form of different tales the characters tell by the fireplace at midnight.
The other inhabitants of Brightcliffe are Sandra (Annarah Cymone), a devoted Christian, Spencer (William Chris Sumpter), a friendly patient that has AIDS, Natsuki (Aya Furukawa), a depressed teenager with ovarian cancer, Kevin (Igby Rigney), a leukemia patient that who quickly becomes close to Ilonka, Cheri (Adia), who comes from a rich family and lies constantly, Amesh (Sauriyan Sapkota), a glioblastoma patient that is one of the newest arrivals, and Anya (Ruth Codd), a standout in the show, who uses a wheelchair after losing her leg to bone cancer.
Road To Nowhere
While other Flanagan productions have an older cast, this show’s cast is made up of a younger ensemble, giving a slightly different feel to the series. Normally, this would make for a lighter tone, however, because of the setting, this makes for a mix of youthful spirit and dread for the inevitable faith all these characters will ultimately share.
Something else that sets this series apart is the different stories the Club tells at midnight. They make every episode have a different tone and let the main plot breathe. These tales even incorporate different genres including a noir detective mystery, one that plays around with the concept of jump scares, a serial killer spree, and even a sci-fi adventure that features Rahul Kohli.
Flanagan’s style is different from other horror content as it doesn’t only rely on gore or jump scares to scare the audience. They do appear, but they are not the sole source of horror. Not only that, but his series always feel personal. Time is spent getting to know the characters, so they are not treated like props that just serve the series by getting a gory death, but rather as complete and complex characters that have wants, needs, and flaws.
This means that, as is common with his shows, the terror does not only come from the ghosts or supernatural beings that inhabit the world, but rather the tragic stories of how they became otherworldly, the evil some people possess, or the way time serves as a prison for several characters. This has also been a common thread in the recent new wave of horror films like Hereditary.
As Flanagan does anthology series, he gets to constantly recast some of the actors for different projects, like the previously mentioned Rahul Kohli who appears in both Midnight Mass and The Haunting of Bly Manor. But most notably in this series, we also have Samantha Sloyan and Annarah Cymone, both of whom played parts in Midnight Mass and play important characters here. One notable new addition to the Flanaverse is Heather Langenkamp, who plays Dr. Georgina Stanton and whom you may remember from 1984’s Nightmare on Elm Street.
All in all, The Midnight Club tells a compelling story that is on par with the previous installments on Netflix. However, the tone does feel different enough to offer something unique to Flanagan’s oeuvre. As for how it ranks among the other series, we might need a little time to form a conclusive opinion. In any case, if you liked this series, Netflix and Flanagan have planned for multiple seasons.
For the moment, we can get excited about the next series, The Fall of The House of Usher, a retelling of one of Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories. Or watch some newly released horror films like Smile or Hellraiser.