Why Midnight Mass is Mike Flanagan’s Most Personal Work

After Den of Geek and several other outlets had the opportunity to speak with Flanagan further via Zoom, it soon became clear why. Midnight Mass is an intensely personal outing for the Salem, Massachusetts-born scare supervisor.

For starters, Flanagan has been working on Midnight Mass for longer than any other project in his career, having begun germinating the idea for the story before production even began on Oculus. The tale about the isolated Crockett Island and a mysterious preacher who comes to town and shakes things up has been worked on in several mediums – as a novel, a screenplay for a feature, and two separate attempts at a TV show (the second of which was successful, and the first of which fizzled out in 2014) 

In fact, Easter eggs to the at-the-time unproduced story have popped up in Flanagan’s previous works such as in a fictional book published by Hush’s lead character Maddie Young (Kate Siegel). So, while Midnight Mass may have all the markings of a traditional “Flana-verse” horror outing for its creator, it’s clear that this project is different.

“The biggest difference for me is that this project has always been where I’ve focused on putting all the personal stuff in,” Flanagan says. “It deals with a lot of what I think about faith and religion and what it means to be alive in the world and what happens when we die. You know, all the little questions like that.”

Chief among the reasons as to why Midnight Mass is personal to Flangan is its depiction of faith. The Catholic Church is at the center of life on Crockett Island, and it was the Catholic Church that had an outsized impact on Flanagan in his youth. Producing partner Trevor Macy describes Flanagan as an “encyclopedia” of the Bible and church rites. That deep understanding of religious myth led into an even deeper understanding of horror.

“When I was a kid in Bible Study, the horror elements of the Bible were impossible to ignore,” Flangan says. “If you open the book you’ve got angels patrolling through Egypt and slaughtering the first-borns. You’ve got a river turning into blood. You’ve got plagues of locusts and a pillar of fire.”

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