Follow TV Tropes

Following

Series / Midnight Mass (2021)
aka: Midnight Mass

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/sub_buzz_4383_1631130700_21.jpeg

"I am so glad that you'll be with us for what comes next."
Advertisement:

Midnight Mass is a Netflix Original Series created by Mike Flanagan, who also serves as writer, director, and executive producer for the series. The series stars Zach Gilford, Hamish Linklater, Kate Siegel, Annabeth Gish, Henry Thomas, Michael Trucco, Rahul Kohli, Samantha Sloyan, Alex Essoe and Kristin Lehman.

Midnight Mass tells the tale of a small, isolated island community whose existing divisions are amplified by the return of Riley Flynn (Gilford), a disgraced young man, and the arrival of the charismatic priest Father Paul (Linklater). When Father Paul's appearance on Crockett Island coincides with unexplained and seemingly miraculous events, a renewed religious fervor takes hold of the community -– but do these miracles come at a price?

The series was released on September 24th, 2021.

Advertisement:

The Teaser Trailer and Official Trailer can be found here.

Not to be confused with Midnight Mass (2004).


This series contains examples of

  • Abusive Parents: While not portrayed onscreen, the few things we know about Erin's deceased mother is far from pleasant. She had despised her daughter for being born and started physically abusing her when she was seven just for releasing a dove. This prompted Erin to leave Crockett Island for years after becoming old enough to do so.
  • Actor Allusion: In Henry Thomas' first scene, his son is trying to phone home.
  • Adult Fear:
    • Riley disappears in Episode 5. The audience knows he's with Father Paul but with the context of having had a long conversation about death the night before he disappeared, Erin worries that he's killed himself. And then he does, in front of her, by letting the sunrise burn him to ashes.
    • Advertisement:
    • Sheriff Hassan, screaming and pleading, as he's held down and Forced to Watch as his son fully converts to Father Paul's cult and drinks poison.
  • Alone with the Psycho: When Riley tells Erin all about the vampires, she notes that he did so when they're alone in a rowboat in the middle of the water, where's there nowhere for her to go. She then says that, despite this, she isn't afraid. He corrects her; he led her to where there's nowhere for him to go.
  • Ambiguous Situation: It's unclear what kind of relationship Paul has with the Angel. It seems to do his bidding, but it might simply be allowing him to serve as its Renfield.
  • Ancient Evil: Monsignor Pruitt found the "Angel" in some ancient ruins in the desert outside Damascus, where it had apparently rested for centuries.
  • Angelic Abomination: Pretty much the entirety of the plot happens because Monsignor Pruitt mistook the Nosferatu-esque vampire that attacked him for an angel.
  • Anti-Villain: Father Paul/Monsignor Pruitt is a decent man at heart, who just wants to bring hope and miracles to his dying hometown. Unfortunately, his method of doing so involves exposing everyone to vampirism.
  • Anyone Can Die: Riley's death in Episode 5 is a major shock for the viewer, and it borders on a complete Kill 'Em All by the last episode. Out of a cast of seventeen main/secondary characters and over a hundred other people on the island, only Leeza and Warren survive.
  • Arc Words: "Dignity," for Sheriff Hassan, who endured years of Islamophobic abuse while serving in the NYPD, watched his wife suffer a horrifying death to cancer and eventually moved to the island to start a new life, but still has to keep his head down and avoid bringing too much attention to himself in a very Catholic community. He stresses the importance of maintaining dignity first to Ali, later to Sarah. It's seeing Bev shoot the Sheriff and strip him of dignity by hurling Islamophobic taunts as he starts to bleed out that causes Ali to turn on the other vampires and destroy their last refuge from the sunlight.
  • Artistic License – Religion: Overall, the show is relatively accurate, although there are still a few egregious errors:
    • Ash Wednesday is a fast day as it marks the beginning of Lent, so it's about the last day you'd expect a Catholic church to have a potluck. It would have made much more sense to hold it the day before on Shrove Tuesday, which actually encourages feasting and using up the more tempting items of food in the house before Lent starts.
    • It's true that green vestments are worn during "ordinary time" (aka the Sundays after Pentecost). However, that season of the church year occurs between late May or early June and the first Sunday of Advent (late November). It's impossible to be in ordinary time right before Lent, which falls in February; the season would have been Epiphany, and Father Paul likely would be in the right to wear white.
    • Good Friday is one of the only two days of the year when there's no mass. There is still a service, though, so it's potentially just an error in terminology.note 
    • Except for the candles, the Easter Vigil hardly resembled an actual Easter Vigil. Potentially justified, though, because the plan was to convert everyone then.
    • Bev's general behaviour, along with her obsession with the Scripture, final judgement over the righteous and general fondness of apocalyptic themes are very Protestant and most definitely not Catholic. She's not just the local fundie, she feels like someone taken straight out of a different denomination altogether, fixating on things that are just nonsensical from the point of view of the Catholic doctrine and teachings, while virtually everything she says would be considered outright heretical, even by lay people.
  • Asshole Victim: Chillingly invoked by Bev when she orders several men to dispose of Joe's body. When the two balk, she goes on a rant about how Joe is a drunk and a sinner who paralyzed Leeza and has always dragged the island down, so actually, it was God's will that he died and they're unfaithful and don't love God if they don't do what she says.
  • As the Good Book Says...: Being a show built around Christianity, there's of course plenty of quoting from the Bible, especially by Father Paul and Bev to justify embracing the vampirism.
  • As You Know: Father Paul, when confessing to God:
    Saul was a persecutor of Christians, an enemy of the Church, heading to Damascus to round up believers, take them prisoner. But as you know, as he neared Damascus, he saw a light so bright it knocked him to the ground.
  • Bait-and-Switch: The first supernatural element in the series is the apparition that Riley sees every night of the girl that he killed by driving drunk. By the end of the series, it's clear that she's more of a manifestation of Riley's guilt than an actual entity and vampirism is the real focus.
  • Beauty Inversion: Samantha Sloyan is by all means a very gorgeous woman but Bev Keane is made to look like an unappealing Old Maid. Part of it is due to her costuming and makeup, but a great deal of her unattractiveness is conveyed by her powerful effective performance as such a horrid human being.
  • Belief Makes You Stupid: Notable aversion. Almost everyone is religious and run the normal spectrum of intelligence. Some of the most devout characters (Annie, Mildred, Leeza, Erin) are the ones who recognize and reject what is happening, too, not giving up to religious frenzy.
  • Big Bad: It seems at first that Father Paul will be the villain, but instead of him or even the "Angel" (which seems to essentially be a mindless beast) the true antagonist is Beverly Keane, who takes over the vampires and unleashes them on the island.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Crockett Island is burnt to the ground and nearly everyone is killed, either from being slaughtered by the turned congregation, dying from their wounds like Erin, Sarah and Hassan, or being burnt to ashes by the sunlight if they'd become a vampire. But Leeza and Warren manage to escape alive and it's heavily implied by the fact that Leeza can no longer feel her legs that the "Angel" didn't get out of the path of the sun in time and is now destroyed, preventing the fate that befell the island from ever happening again...although Mike Flanagan deliberately left the "Angel's" fate ambiguous and offscreen, to show that even if you drive corruption and fanaticism out of a community, the possibility of its return never really goes away.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Monsignor Pruitt is shot in the head by Mildred at Easter. Disturbingly he survives it as he is now a vampire.
  • Cannot Cross Running Water: Justified, as the 30 miles of water around the island are too strong for a vampire to swim across. Of course, the humans are just as trapped on the island too if the boats are disabled...
  • Central Theme: Forgiveness.
    • Forgiveness of oneself is a central theme, explored through Riley and his foils Joe and Father Paul. Riley manages to forgive himself, never forgetting the manslaughter he committed but accepting it, which gives him peace at his death. Father Paul meanwhile perversely forgives himself for killing Joe by using the fact he feels no guilt as a sign he never committed a wrong.
    • After the miracle of being able to walk again Leeza surprises Joe Collie in his trailer, gives him a "The Reason You Suck" Speech she'd been holding in her entire life, that she'd like to see him suffer... and then forgives him, saying she's not going to let that hate and resentment control her life anymore, and that he shouldn't let his own guilt stop him from living.
    • In the final episode Sturge notices Ooker is emotionally broken after becoming a vampire, and it turns out he'd killed his parents. Sturge offers to forgive Ooker, and then Ooker returns the favor in a clear parallel to the hand of peace during a Catholic mass.
    • Also in the final episode, Father Paul sits with Mildred awaiting the sunrise, and quietly asks her forgiveness for all of the horror that occurred, silently taking responsibility for it. She caresses his face as a nonverbal gesture of forgiveness, and they share a kiss just as they meet the sun together.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Joe's grandfather's rifle, hanging on his wall, is used at the end of the series.
  • Christianity Is Catholic: While the series features two prominent Muslim characters and some offhand references about Buddhism and Scientology, Christianity is discussed exclusively in terms of Catholic doctrine, with no indication that there are Christians of other denominations on Crockett Island, while the only church there is a Catholic one.
  • Closed Circle: There's thirty miles of ocean between Crockett Island and the mainland, and the only way to make the journey across it is by ferry or, in a pinch, fishing boat. So when certain members of the cultish congregation send away the ferries, sabotage the fishing boats, and cut power and phone/internet signal, the characters are trapped.
  • Confessional: Naturally there is one in the Catholic church. This becomes the source of some exposition as Father Paul enters it to confess to God.
  • The Corrupter: Bev Keane becomes this to Father Paul and the rest of the island.
  • Creator Thumbprint: Like in other works by Flanagan, there are several monologues, and parental relationships are central to the story. There is also similar horror imagery: supernatural figures blend into shadows and watch people, a main character is haunted by a figure from a traffic accident, and reflective eyes are played for horror.
  • Crisis of Faith:
    • Former altar boy Riley lost his faith after driving drunk and causing the death of a teenager. And not just his own, but any sort of interest with any kind of religion or religiousness, as he confess to Erin.
    • Ali begins to doubt his Muslim faith in favor of Catholicism after witnessing Leeza regain her ability to walk.
  • Daylight Horror: Riley's suicide via burning in the sunlight is an incredibly disturbing moment for both Erin and the audience.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Riley is the first major character introduced and has the most emotional baggage to work through, all of which makes it clear he's the main character... and then he dies two episodes before the finale, leaving Erin, Sarah, Mildred and Hassan to pick up the reins.
  • Dirty Coward: In the aftermath of the Easter midnight mass where half the town commits suicide to be resurrected as vampires, Bev realizes from her exposure to Riley post-transformation where he nearly attacked her that she was in danger of being locked in a room full of hungry vampires, and hid in the rectory. This saved her life for a little while, but was also hypocritical because both before (and after) she was completely onboard with Pruitt's plan, but was too cowardly to face death.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Father Paul's Easter service in the penultimate episode is reminiscent of the Jonestown massacre, where similarly cult members drank poison and murdered their fellow congregation members.
  • Dwindling Party: In the last two episodes, the group of islanders that opposes Father Hill and later Bev's conversion of the island residents into vampires is steadily picked off. Mildred Gunning is killed when she attacks Father Paul and the Angel with a gun and it pounces on her in retaliation during the mass itself, Ed Flynn is swarmed by the newly-vampirized congregation and fed on before he can make it out of the church itself, and Annie later sacrifices herself by distracting Bev and Sturge by subjecting Bev to "The Reason You Suck" Speech before slitting her throat to let the others ecape. Warren and Leeza are sent to the northern end of the island to find a boat and get off Crockett Island until sun-up, leaving Sherriff Hassan, Sarah, and Erin. Hassan is shot by Bev and bleeds out while reciting morning prayers as the sun comes up, Sarah is shot by Sturge when he finds her dousing the church to be set on fire, and Erin is likewise fed on by the Angel but uses its preoccupation with feeding on her to cut its wings with her knife to hobble its ability to escape. Subverted in that three of the characters who die — Mildred, Ed, and Annie — come back after their deaths as vampires themselves as they'd already unknowingly drank the Angel's blood during Hill's sermons, but don't try to hook up with the still-living survivors and die with the rest of the islanders as the sun rises.
  • Dying as Yourself: Father Paul tries to feed a dying Sarah his blood when she's mortally wounded from a gunshot. Her response is to spit it out so she can die as a human being.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome:
    • Annie gives Bev a spectacular "Reason You Suck" Speech and then slits her own throat, giving the others time to escape. She comes back as a vampire, but still points for style.
    • Erin punctures both of the "Angel's" wings with a knife even as it feeds on her, ensuring it can't escape the sun.
  • Dying Town: Crockett Island's population is steadily dwindling, due to an oil spill which destroyed the local fishing industry. By the time the show starts proper, there's only around a hundred and twenty people still resident on the island, with several families not even trying to sell at this point but just packing up and leaving vacant houses.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Realizing the sun is rising soon, the vampire members of the community have nowhere to hide and largely opt to meet death bravely. Ali prays with his dying father Hassan, Sturge spends time comforting a distraught Ooker and asking for his forgiveness, Father Paul and Mildred sit together on a bridge holding their dead daughter, and the Flynns lead the islanders in singing "Nearer My God To Thee" as they hold one another. Beverly Keene is the one aversion, screaming and sobbing as she frantically attempts to dig a hole to escape the daylight.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Beverly Keane's sweet, sugary persona covers up a spiteful, vengeful hypocrite. And everyone in the town is perfectly aware of her true colors but just never saw a point in standing up to her.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In the first episode, Bev says that the church (and now the new rec center) always serves as the town storm shelter, while the sheriff says they should use the school/town hall because the church and rec center don't have enough room for the whole town. After Bev unleashes the vampires on the town populace she says that they can't turn any more people into vampires, as there won't be enough room to shelter them after she decides to burn all the buildings on the rest of the island.
    • The almost senile Mildred is clearly confused by seeing Father Paul and seems to recognize him. It's because she knew Monsignor Pruitt when he was young. She also mentions to Sarah that she spotted her father out the window.
    • Riley repeatedly has sinister dreams of sitting in a rowboat just before the sunrise. He dies in almost that exact circumstance.
    • Father Paul seems to know a lot about the "hunting accident" (where Joe was drunk and reckless with his gun) that paralyzed Leeza for a newcomer to an insular community. Of course he knows about it. He was there.
    • Sarah remarking on how Father Paul seems to be staring at her like Pruitt used to and her assumption that it's because she's gay serves as a double whammy. Not only is it a hint that Father Paul is Monsignor Pruitt, but it foreshadows the revelation that Sarah is Pruitt's daughter.
    • When Sarah tends to Father Paul after he faints, he says that he admires how she's a doctor that helps people and tells her that he's So Proud of You. Just like a father would.
    • In the third episode, Joe mentions rumors that Monsignor Pruitt broke his vows of celibacy. As we find out in the final episode, this is true, as he had an affair with Mildred Gunning, and he's Sarah's real father.
    • In the fourth episode, Erin tells Riley a story about how as a child, her mother forced her to help clip the wings of pet birds so they couldn't fly away. In the final episode, upon being attacked by the "Angel", she repeatedly stabs at its wings in order to cripple it and guarantee it can't fly fast enough to escape the rising sun.
    • In the final episode, Leeza and Warren come across the "Angel" feeding on a person. They try to shoot it, but it just brushes the attack off, too focused on feeding. This establishes that when it is feeding, it loses its full awareness of its surroundings and even what is happening with its own body, which allows Erin to slash its wings with it not even noticing until it had finished eating.
  • From New York to Nowhere: Hassan left his position with the NYPD to be the sheriff on Crockett Island. Unlike typical cases, he did this on purpose, explicitly looking for a place like the island with virtually no crime, where his son can grow up safely.
  • The Fundamentalist: Beverly Keane, who becomes increasingly sinister as she embraces the belief that the vampire is an angel. She even cites Bible verses justifying the "chosen's" lust for blood and burning in the sunlight.
  • Genre Shift: "Book III: Proverbs" reveals that Father Paul is really a rejuvenated Monsignor Pruitt, who was bitten by a vampire-like monster that he believes is an angel, and smuggled it back to the island so that it could "bless" his community.
  • Glowing Eyelights of Undeath: Anyone who dies after consuming the blood of the Angel is resurrected with eye that reflect light much like the cats we see in the first episode. The Angel also has these, although it remains unknown if it is in a state of undeath itself.
  • Guns Are Worthless: Played with. Firearms are useless to kill a vampire and the only way they know to kill one is with sunlight, even so, they serve to incapacitate one for several minutes.
  • Hate Sink: Bev Keane is a smug, Islamophobic, self-righteous, Holier Than Thou Hypocrite with absolutely no redeeming qualities.
  • Healing Factor: People who drink vampire blood will begin healing, even reversing aging and spinal injuries. When they are killed, they will heal the fatal injury (though the time this take varies), and will have an even stronger healing factor: full vampires heal cuts in seconds, and can recover from headshots in minutes.
  • Heel Realization: Seeing the violent rampage carried out by his converted congregants is enough for Father Paul to realize the evil he's unleashed, and he renounces the "Angel".
  • Heroic Sacrifice: When taken by the "Angel," Erin (in a clear callback to "Nosferatu") beckons it to feed on her more while using her knife to puncture its wings so it won't be able to flee the daylight.
  • Heroic Suicide: First Riley, who allows himself to endure Suicide by Sunlight to prove the truth of what happened to him to Erin, and then Ali, who turns on his fellow vampires and burns the last remaining shelter after realizing the depths of Bev's evil and witnessing her cruelty to his father.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: In a fit of fundamentalist mania, Bev orders the entire town burned down in order to drive out the "heretics" who refuse to become vampires, sparing only the church and rec center where the converted will take shelter. This allows the heroes to burn down those buildings as well, leaving the vampires with no protection from the sun.
  • Holy Burns Evil: Completely averted, as an important plot point. Since crosses and holy ground do not bother any of the creatures in-universe, it's far easier to see why Monsignor Pruitt took the vampire for an angel. The show would be very different with this trope played straight.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: The majority of the series takes place over the period of Lent, with the climax happening during Easter Vigil — fittingly, one of the two times per year that midnight mass happens in reality.
  • Horror Hunger: Vampires have a primal urge to consume blood, and although it's possible (but difficult) to resist attacking others in order to get it, the sight and smell of fresh blood seems to override any rational thought. This is something Annie uses to stall for time in the final episode.
  • Hypocrite: Bev, in the final moments of the island population. She spent the entire series believing herself to be of stronger faith than others in the island, even more than Father Paul by the end, but at that moment where death is imminent, while the rest of the island's residents accept it gracefully and spend their final moments singing a hymn together, and the Sheriff and his son, reconciled, join in prayer one final time, Bev starts digging in the beach sand trying to make a hole big enough for her to hide while screaming in fear.
  • I Can't Feel My Legs: The final words of the series, hinting that the Angel didn't outrun the sunrise, and Leeza will be able to remain human.
  • Immortal Procreation Clause: The first effect of the vampiric blood on Erin is to have her lose her baby.
  • Kill 'Em All: By the end of the series, only two of the cast are still alive.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence:
    • Bev, when Erin points the gun at her. "You could shoot me right now, it just means I'm five minutes behind—"
    • The sun rises and kills the vampires as they are singing, "Nearer my God to—".
  • Kryptonite Factor: Vampires here are extremely vulnerable to sunlight, being consumed by flame in seconds. Otherwise they lack the traditional weaknesses: the Angel enters the church without issue, no one reacts to the religious icons around the island, and the vampirised congregation can enter their neighbors' homes without invitation.
  • Lightning Reveal: In the storm, Riley sees a figure on the beach; the flashes of lightning reveal Monsignor Pruitt's trademark hat and long coat.
  • Logical Weakness: Newborn vampires in this story have an impressive healing factor, but don't seem tougher than normal humans and feel pain in the same way. So they can be stunned by being shot, and the bullet's momentum will still knock them back. Shoot one in the head and it will be paralysed for several minutes while its brain heals.
  • Looks Like Orlok: "The Angel", the originator vampire in the show's scope, has a classical Nosferatu-like appearance of pale skin, bald head and long ears with claws (plus a long black cloak at one point, matching the look of Count Orlok more closely). It also dies in a manner homaging the fate of Count Orlok: distracted by blood-sucking until it is too late.
  • Lovecraft Country: Crockett Island is an isolated and dying New England community in the ass-end of nowhere — in other words, the perfect breeding ground for a growing coven of religious vampires.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Monsignor Pruitt/Father Paul is Sarah's biological father, as a result of an affair he had with her mother. He comes clear about it in their first (and final) confrontation.
  • Manipulative Bitch: Bev is always wording things in such a way as to play the victim whenever she is met with any sort of criticism.
  • Minority Police Officer: Sheriff Hassan, and it plays a large role in his backstory. In the aftermath of 9/11, he joined the NYPD in an attempt to be a positive example as a Muslim. Since there was so much focus on combatting Middle Eastern Terrorists, he was able to move up the ranks quickly due to his knowledge of Arab language and culture; however, he soon became a pariah when he spoke out against police abuse. Simultaneously, Islamophobia caused himself and his fellow Muslim officers to come under false suspicion.
  • Mood Whiplash: After the sunlight hits Riley, all sound cuts out save for a gentle piano rendition of "Nearer My God to Thee" as the young girl Riley killed appears before him and takes his hand, seemingly guiding him to the afterlife. Erin's horrified screaming breaks the trance as we're then treated to the lovely sight of Riley burning and crumbling to ashes in the sunlight.
  • Moody Trailer Cover Song: The Official Trailer makes use of "Somewhere Only We Know" backed with horror strings and stabs near the latter half of the trailer.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • Riley has this reaction in the opening scene, which shows the crash he caused by driving drunk. When he realizes he killed the driver of the other car, he's horrified, and he immediately pleads guilty and accepts the judge's sentence.
    • This is Father Paul's reaction when he recovers from the gunshot wound to the head and realizes that Bev has unleashed the vampires on the island, rather than containing them in the church and guiding them through the transformation as he had intended.
    • In the final episode, once the bloodlust and mob mentality wears off, the vampiric townsfolk are horrified by the carnage they've inflicted; in particular, a traumatized Ooker confesses to Sturge that he's pretty sure he killed his own mother.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The trailers for the series give absolutely no indication about the vampire aspect, instead building it up to look like a story where the arrival of a new priest drives a small town to a cult-like religious frenzy.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • Mildred picks up Sheriff Hassan's gun and shoots Father Paul in the head to try to stop the madness in the church. This unfortunately puts Father Paul out of commission and Bev in charge; she subsequently opens the doors to the church and allows the vampires to feast on the villagers as a punishment for their unbelief, whereas Father Paul's plan was to keep them contained in the church as he guided them through the transformation.
    • Leeza takes Joe's rifle, along with a tank of gasoline, as protection when she and Warren try to escape the carnage. When they accidentally find the Angel, they set him ablaze and are forced to run away, leaving the rifle behind. Said rifle is then picked up by Sturge and later used to kill Sarah and Sheriff Hassan.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Bev orders Sturge and her followers to burn down the settlement, leaving the rec center and the church as the only remaining buildings, in order to "drive out the unbelievers". What it actually means is there are virtually no buildings left on the island come sunrise. Once Erin, Sarah and Hassan are done with the port, all they have to do is burn the church and the center, since the vampires did all the hard work for them already.
  • Non-Malicious Monster: Zig-Zagged. Ed initially assumes that the vampiric townsfolk have been driven mad by their Horror Hunger and can't stop themselves from attacking others. But when he's turned, Ed and Annie both realize they're perfectly capable of fighting through the pain and keeping true to themselves; the others are simply showing who they really are. That said, it's still very easy for newly turned townsfolk to be overwhelmed and lose control without intending to — Howie Hobbs, who didn't attend the fateful mass and was turned in the ensuing carnage, had no idea what to expect and killed his whole family, leaving him emotionally destroyed.
  • Not His Blood: Invertedafter dying and coming back as vampires, Annie and Ed reassure each other that the blood on them is only their own, implying that they haven't harmed anyone.
  • Not Using the "Z" Word: Nobody ever uses the word "vampire." The original creature is only ever referred to as the Angel, both in dialogue and closed captioning.
  • Oh, Crap!: Father Paul and Riley both have this reaction when the latter walks in on The Angel filling the Communion bottle with its blood.
  • The Oner: The scene on the beach at the start of Episode 2 is a fairly lengthy one, with the camera following and orbiting several different groups of characters as they come in and out of the scene, but not cutting a single time until the scene is over.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: British actor Rahul Kohli's American accent is shaky at best.
  • Opportunistic Bastard: Bev. Although turning the islanders into vampires was Paul's idea, Bev made sure to hijack that plan to spread chaos throughout the island with the intention of permanently killing non-believers.
  • Our Vampires Are Different:
    • The "Angel" that causes the whole plot is a Nosferatu-esque, hairless and winged monster, with an ambiguous level of intelligence; it only speaks when it's repeating a human and might not even understand what it's saying, but it's also clearly sentient enough to wear clothes and fill up a chalice with its blood. It seems to have a telepathic or intuitive connection to those who have drunk its blood. It obviously isn't repelled by Christian or religious symbols, or religious faith, and neither are the vampires that it creates.
    • If a human drinks the Angel's blood, they don't become a vampire right away, but their body begins to change on a molecular level, with injuries healing and youth restored. The more they drink of it, the more vulnerable they become to sunlight, which attacks and burns out the foreign cells in the body. Crucially, the human needs to physically die (either by some outward cause such as a broken neck or poison, or simply from drinking too much of the "Angel's" blood — Word of God is that the latter is what killed Father Paul in "Proverbs") in order to fully become a vampire themselves, after which they develop the standard bloodlust and eyes that reflect light, like a cat.
    • If a person stops taking the blood and suffers no accidents, Sarah Gunning theorizes that the blood will eventually pass from their system and they'd be in no further danger of transforming. And if the source of the blood dies, then apparently the blood's power disappears — in the final episode, when the "Angel" likely perishes via sunlight offscreen, Leeza (who was previously cured of a damaged spine via the 'communion wine') says that she can no longer feel her legs.
    • Only the Angel has fangs, and none of them need to be invited in to get into someone's home.
  • Papa Wolf: The only time we see Father Paul erupt in rage is when his daughter is shot, and he nearly kills Sturge with his bare hands before Mildred calls him off.
  • Passive-Aggressive Kombat: Bev is a master of both this and sugary malice. Especially prominent when Sheriff Hassan is clearly feeling around, accusing her poisoning Joe's dog, for which she has an obvious motive and means, and she keeps talking him in circles while refusing to accept the implication, clearly trying to goad him into saying it straight out while knowing that he can't do that when he has no solid proof.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Bev, once the town has succumbed to vampirism, calls the Sheriff a "terror-loving" man due to him being Muslim. Even when she mortally wounds him, she says she always knew he was a terrorist and insist on not drinking his "dirty blood".
  • Playing Gertrude:
    • Mildred, played by Alex Essoe under heavy old age makeup, is 21 years younger than Annabeth Gish, who plays her daughter Sarah. The reason for this becomes evident as Mildred de-ages due to the Angel's influence.
    • Henry Thomas and Kristin Lehman are also only about ten years older than Zach Gilford.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • Leeza gives one to Joe when she finally confronts him about the drunken accident that paralyzed her.
    • Annie to Bev in the final episode, explaining how the latter is a self-righteous hypocrite who always plays the victim card and thinks she is better than everybody else.
    Annie: Bev, I want you to listen to me, because your whole life, I think you've needed to hear this: you aren't a good person. God doesn't love you more than anyone else, you aren't a hero, and you certainly, certainly aren't a victim. [...] God loves [Riley]. Just as much as he loves you, Bev. Why does that upset you so much? Just the idea that God loves everyone just as much as you.
  • Religious Horror: The story follows strange supernatural events occurring when a new priest brings upon miracles on a sleepy little town. The fervent religiosity taking over the town even as things begin to take a darker turn, as well as Bev justifying horrible things by quoting the scripture, are part of the horror.
  • Religious Vampire: A core concept of the show. The vampires even use religious dogma and scripture to justify their actions.
  • The Renfield: Father Paul's relationship with the Angel is ambiguous, but one interpretation is that he is serving this role.
  • Required Secondary Powers: Vampires have regeneration that makes them virtually impossible to kill with conventional weapons, but they do not appear to possess any degree of super strength or durability, so one shot can still knock them down and keep them incapacitated for several minutes.
  • Riddle for the Ages: Where did the Angel come from? How did it come to be? Are there more of its kind?
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: After Father Paul fixes Leeza's legs, Riley refuses to believe that it was really a miracle. He thinks Leeza must have been misdiagnosed and her spine has been slowly healing all this time, and Father Paul somehow found out and capitalized on it to forge a miracle. Riley's correct that it wasn't spontaneous or a miracle — Father Paul did know Leeza was better ahead of time, because he made her get better by spiking the Communion wine she drinks daily with vampire blood. But he really does think it was true divine intervention, he's not conning anyone.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!:
    • When Erin, Sarah and Mildred start to realize what's going on, they attempt to take the ferry to the mainland to try and raise the alarm. Unfortunately, Mayor Scarborough has sent the ferries away until the next day, and Sturge is in the process of locking down the fishing boats, meaning the protagonists are trapped.
    • When Sturge drinks poison at the Midnight Mass and starts convulsing on the church floor, Hassan grabs his son's arm and heads for the exit. Unfortunately, the Angel is blocking the way.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The "Angel" was trapped in an underground tomb in the desert outside Damascus until Monsignor Pruitt stumbled on it during an intense sandstorm that uncovered and opened its entrance.
  • Shown Their Work: Especially toward the beginning, the depictions of Catholic mass are relatively accurate.
    • Fr. Paul does wear gold instead of green and use the old translation, but gets called out on it in-universe.
    • Catholics aren't supposed to receive communion if they've committed a mortal sin, unless they go to confession, so Riley staying back in the pew makes sense
    • Ash Wednesday actually is a common day for lax Catholics to go to church
    • In smaller churches without an established choir, or even just at daily mass if there isn't one, priests will frequently ring a bell to announce that mass is beginning
    • Psalm 27 is in the lectionary for the 2nd Sunday of Lent... just not for 2020.note  Although similarly to the gold chasuble, it's possible this was an intentional choice by Fr. Paul.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Riley has 'Salem's Lot on his bookshelf, and the book obviously provided inspiration for the story.
    • Riley's bedroom has posters for Scream (1996) and Se7en, both horror stories from the 90s, showing just how long Riley's been away. Seven in particular connects to Riley's storyline involving sin.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: When Erin holds a vampiric Bev at gunpoint, Bev condescendingly says that if Erin shoots her she'll be back up in five minutes. Erin shoots her mid-sentence, and quips "We've got five minutes."
  • Sinister Minister: Played With with Father Paul. He's pretty relaxed and friendly at first, but his sermons become increasingly intense as he becomes more vampiric. However, his reasons for bringing the "Angel" to the island were beneficent, if misguided, as he wanted to share eternal life with the congregation and woman that he loved; he ultimately realizes he made a huge mistake and the Big Bad turns out to be Beverly.
  • Small, Secluded World: Crockett Island is thirty miles out from the mainland and you need a ferry or fishing boat to get there...which makes it near impossible to get away from the island when things start turning deadly.
  • Small Town, Big Hell: Bev Keane is at the center of much of the drama, but it's inevitable when everyone knows everyone. Lampshaded by Joe when he joins Riley's Alcoholics Anonymous meetings with Father Paul.
    "So much for the 'Anonymous' part."
  • Small Town Boredom: Crockett Island has a population of 127, and it is painfully dull. Riley and Erin fled to the mainland as soon as they were old enough and are not happy that they've ended up back in the place they longed to escape, and Ali is literally described as being 'bored to tears' by his father, having to sneak out at night with his friends to get high in order to entertain himself.
  • Spotting the Thread: When Joe Collie doesn't show up for an AA meeting, Father Paul tells Riley that he's visiting his sister on the mainland. Riley knows that Joe's sister died some months prior, and this lie clues him into the fact that Father Paul may be lying about other things as well.
  • Stranger in a Familiar Land: This is the case with Riley, who returns to his small-town home after leaving for school, a career in finances, a drunk driving incident in the city that involved the death of a young girl, and subsequent jail time.
  • Suicide by Sunlight:
    • Riley opts to go out this way rather than live as a vampire, taking a rowboat out onto the water beforehand so that he can't possibly escape.
    • In the finale, the vampiric townsfolk, horrified at what they've done in their bloodlust, silently agree to meet the sun together.
  • Super Senses: Vampires have excellent night time vision, with sources of light having a diffuse corona around them.
  • Throwing Off the Disability: Father Paul seemingly calls upon Divine Intervention so that Leeza can walk as the first real display of his ability to perform miracles. Ultimately subverted, as her legs are only "fixed" because she's infected with vampirism, and her disability coming back is actually a good thing because it means the "Angel" is probably dead and she won't turn.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Bowl is walking home at night and passes an abandoned house...the door of which creaks open loudly just as he's walked past. When he goes back to investigate, something within the house repeats everything he says. Thinking it's one of the teens he deals weed to, he enters and is promptly pounced on by the "Angel". Justified as Bowl has no real reason to be afraid of anyone on the island (the Sherrif mentions there is basically no violent crime in the town for a century), and has no reason to think it's anything but a harmless prank.
  • Tragic Monster: Father Paul genuinely believes that the vampiric gift is a divine one and wants to share it with his community. He realizes too late how wrong he is.
  • Tropaholics Anonymous: One of the conditions of Riley's parole is attending weekly Alcoholics Anonymous meetings; Father Paul offers to open up a chapter on the island to save him a trip to the mainland. It's never made fully clear if that was to keep Riley on the island for the grand scheme, or if Father Paul wanted to genuinely help - or maybe even both, given his twisted sense of service.
  • Vein-o-Vision: Vampires can see the blood vessels of humans they are close too, as well as hear their heartbeat.
  • Villainous BSoD: In the final episode, Bev is reduced to silent shock as she watches her last shelter from the sun burn down and wanders down to the beach, quietly crying. Then it becomes a full Villainous Breakdown as she starts screaming and desperately digging in the sand in a futile effort to escape the sunrise.
  • Villainous Lament: Granted, not everyone singing it is a villain, but "Nearer My God to Thee" is sung by the vampiric townsfolk as they await their destruction by sunlight while they grapple with the weight of what they have done.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Father Paul's plan is to eliminate sickness and death. Unfortunately, the way to do that is by turning people into vampires.
  • Wham Episode: On top of "Book III", "Book V" hits hard with Riley's suicide by sunrise after becoming a vampire.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Ed and Annie Flynn show that it is possible for vampires to ignore their bloodlust; most of the infectees just don't care, lack self-control, or in the case of at least one person who didn't go to mass, were too confused and shocked by what was happening.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: It's never revealed where exactly Crockett Island is located, only that it's about thirty miles to the east of the 'mainland'. Given that Mike Flanagan was born in Salem, Massachusetts and spent part of his childhood in Governor’s Island, New York, and from the look of the set, it might be somewhere in New England, though the islanders lack any New England accent.
  • You Are Not Alone: When Erin and Riley talk about what they think Heaven is, she believes that this is what Heaven is like: you are loved and you are not alone, forever.

Alternative Title(s): Midnight Mass

Top

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

/

Media sources:

/

Report