It’s not October without a spooky new release from the master of fright, Mike Flanagan. Following his previous Netflix limited series, The Haunting of Hill House, The Haunting of Bly Manor, and Midnight Mass, Flanagan joins forces with Leah Fong for The Midnight Club, an adaptation of the Christopher Pike novel. The series is a slight departure from the others, focused on a younger cast from its YA source material but not losing his signature horror style.
Following a terminal cancer diagnosis, 18-year old Ilonka (Iman Benson) moves into Brightcliffe Hospice, a residential treatment facility where she hopes will have a potential cure. Immediately upon arrival, she feels a strange connection to the house, including haunting apparitions and subtle disturbances.
Getting acquainted with the other residents, she learns of “The Midnight Club”, where they secretively gather in the middle of the night to tell frightening stories. They also have a pact: that the first one to die connects from the beyond to prove there is life after death.
While their tales are full of horrors, there seems to be something more terrifying ready to be uncovered from within the walls.
Backed by a talented young cast, with a few recognizable Flanagan faces like Zach Gilford, Samantha Sloyan, and Rahul Kohli, The Midnight Club is almost a more adult version of Are You Afraid of the Dark — a show Flanagan admitted to drawing inspiration. It hits a somewhat nostalgic nerve given its 90s setting—which aligns to the source materials release—but it feels fresh and modern.
The series allows a variety of tales with different tones and scares under the umbrella of one haunting story. And it’s fun to see these elements of the horror genre explored. For instance, the first episode clearly divulging some commentary on jump scares, whether an audience member would find them lazy or effective.
Aside from scares, the show has an overarching plot with a rich mystery that our protagonist is keen on uncovering. She’s desperate for a cure but becomes increasingly intrigued by the facilities history and what secrets the staff is hiding.
One of my favorite aspects to Flanagan’s creations is how he crafts such an atmospheric and suffocating presence. Even the ghostly figures in his work feel so menacing in his own unique way. It’s this haunting signature style that makes it such a treat to consume during the month of October.
While I’m only partially through the series, I can feel The Midnight Club inching its way up the ranks of how I’d rate Flanagan’s series for Netflix. He knows how to perfectly balance the fun viewers have watching horror with such captivating stories and rich characters backgrounds. If you have yet to watch his other work, I highly recommend you do this month.
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