The Haunting of Hill Home creator Mike Flanagan and Bly Manor writer-producer Leah Fong return with one other spooky saga set at a mysterious teen hospice facility.
Halloween season on Netflix belongs to Mike Flanagan. In 2018, the horror filmmaker took over the zeitgeist for the month of October with the thrilling and emotional restricted collection The Haunting of Hill Home. Since then, he’s introduced bold and deeply felt horror tasks on the streamer almost each fall, together with final 12 months’s sweeping spiritual vampire saga Midnight Mass. Now, Flanagan returns with The Midnight Membership, a younger adult-led collection with hints of horror, thriller, darkish academia, and anthology. Artistic, suspenseful, and endearingly moralizing within the custom of reveals like The Twilight Zone, The Midnight Membership is one other can’t-miss from the filmmaker who typically appears like Stephen King’s storytelling inheritor obvious.
Co-created by Leah Fong (who produced The Haunting of Bly Manor) based mostly on the guide by Christopher Pike, The Midnight Membership follows a gaggle of teenagers and younger adults who meet in a small, privately-run hospice in 1994. Each is terminally in poor health, however they’re additionally brilliantly distinctive, from chipper compulsive liar Cheri (Adia) to super-religious Sandra (Annarah Cymone) to caustic, pill-popping Irish woman Anya (Ruth Codd). The collection’ protagonist is Ilonka (Iman Benson), a excessive achiever whose college-thwarting analysis leads her to purposely search out the secrets and techniques of Rotterdam House, a spot that’s rumored to have cured previous residents.
Whereas The Midnight Membership isn’t a pure anthology – the hospice-set plots are way more than only a body narrative – it does embody self-contained tales within the type of the eight-member membership that meets at midnight to inform ghost tales and tall tales. Many of those tales pull immediately from Pike’s books and have vastly completely different style influences and tones. From a metaphorical freeway to hell to a VHS that predicts the longer term, they’re additionally tales that clearly present from Rod Serling’s custom of compassionate, twisty sci-fi and horror. Reasonably than telling viewers one thing concerning the world, although, every story tells us one thing essential about its narrator, giving a small however very important piece of autonomy again to a gaggle of characters whose personal life tales are past their management.
As a narrative that’s largely about most cancers, loss of life, and the unknowable prospect of an afterlife, The Midnight Membership is well-suited to Flanagan’s penchant for passionately monologuing characters. It is sensible for this ensemble, a bunch of good teenagers cooped up in a spot the place they’re all however ready to die, to ship the phrases they haven’t been in a position to say earlier than in a cascade of emotion. The collection’ emotional tenor generally borders on overly earnest, however principally it delivers real pathos. Even when its script will get a bit taxing, it appears like a purposeful stylistic selection according to its co-creators established signatures–and with the vein of humanizing horror that clearly conjures up him.
Relating to scares, The Midnight Membership may be lighter on them than some other Flanagan collection. Teenagers don’t appear to be the first viewers of The Midnight Membership (it’s rated TV-MA and is kind of heavy), nevertheless it does lean into the truth that lots of the horror tales it tells are made by teenagers. Ilonka references The Breakfast Membership within the present’s first episode, and there’s a Hughsian high quality to all of this, too: the tales are simply as involved with highschool hierarchies as they’re with loss of life and darkness. But they’re undoubtedly a function, not a bug. Every story-in-a-story reconfigures the core forged in new roles, and a number of other embody welcome appearances from previous Flanagan mission alums.
When scary moments do arrive, they’re typically of the leap scare selection, telegraphed to audiences through the sudden look of a determine and the employment of disorienting, sharp sound design. This will get outdated shortly, however in a couple of choose instances, works wonders. As with the Bent-Neck Girl in The Haunting of Hill Home, The Midnight Membership features a few harrowing photographs made all of the extra disturbing by their existentially terrifying backstories.
There’s quite a bit to like in The Midnight Membership, a generally dense and all the time bold saga that, excitingly, doesn’t really purport to be a restricted collection. Amongst its biggest strengths is its forged, together with Benson’s nuanced lead efficiency and a fiery and implausible one by Codd. Ilonka could be the collection lead, however Anya is its screaming, livid coronary heart. An episode centered on her later within the season is little doubt the collection’ finest, and it’s the half I laid awake fascinated with after the credit on all ten episodes had rolled.
The Midnight Membership can also be noteworthy for its considerate portrayal of incapacity. Whereas its characters rail towards loss of life, additionally they assist one another acclimate to their bodily circumstances with out query, speaking love by means of acts of accessibility as typically as by means of phrases. By placing its characters’ personal authorship entrance and heart, The Midnight Membership additionally asks us to assume arduous concerning the tales we’ve heard concerning the sick and dying. In the end, past its scares and mysteries, it acts as an intentional and steady reclamation of the sick child narrative, pushing past the floor to ask huge questions on life, loss of life, and the that means we make from it.
Associated Subjects: Mike Flanagan, Netflix