Midnight mass, the 2021 supernatural/horror mini-series, directed by Mike Flanagan, takes us to Crockett Island, an isolated place cut off from the world. The Island has a population of 127 people, and it seems like time has stopped here. There is one Church and a small makeshift Police station that gives us a sense that it is still a part of the new age world. There is not much to do, which is why many people decide to move out in search of better pastures. There is a heavy influence of the Church on the day-to-day functioning of this town, sometimes so directly that it resembles the medieval periods when governance was vested in the hands of the Church.
Religious authority prevails, and the distinction in the functioning of the Church and the state is quite blurry. Father Pruitt had gone to Jerusalem but, due to bad health, had to be admitted to the hospital. A young and rather ebullient Father Paul is sent to take his place in St. Patricks. Things start to change as Riley also comes back to the Island after many years. A turbulent change was inevitable as a devotee and a decrier stepped foot on the Island, almost simultaneously!
‘Midnight Mass’ Plot Summary
Riley had left the Island a long time ago. He realized the potential of big cities and moved to one to make money. Things were good until he accidentally hit a girl with his car and was sent to prison to serve a sentence for the same. He returned to Crockett island after his conviction. His desires, ambitions, enthusiasm, and otherworldly attachments took a back seat. Prison changed him.
On the other hand, Father Paul made a place for himself. He won the heart of the community through his eloquent and impactful discourses. There was something obscure about him and his whole demeanor.
Something unexpected happens when Father Paul tells Leeza to get up from her wheelchair and come to him on the Sanctuary, the elevated podium from where he used to speak. People find it extremely humiliating to sham a disabled girl who cannot walk in front of the community. But Leeza walks!!!!
A weird concoction of sorcery, occultism, and spirituality enveloped the whole community. The people didn’t know what they should make out of this act of Father Paul.
That is when Bev Keane steps in. She was not only a fanatic but considered herself as the most superior agent of God. Bev Keane was happy by this act of Father Paul. She didn’t care what it was and how it happened. She was only concerned that now people would trust in the powers of the Church blindly, which in turn also gives her the power over the whole community. Bev, while using the name of God, exercised control over every institution of the community. Be that education, or business, or maybe just an individual going about his business, Bev’s influence was ubiquitous.
But nobody imagined that what started as a miracle would end up bringing immense adversity on the people of this Island!
Father Paul and his Secret potion
Father Paul started making a different kind of offertory during the mass. It consisted of wine mixed with another liquid that nobody knew of. He also started going to Dr. Sarah Gunning’s house to host a personal at-home mass for her mother, Mildred Gunning. Mildred was suffering from a lot of ailments due to old age. She was experiencing memory loss, among other things. But surprisingly, after every mass, the people of the community started feeling a lot better physically. Chronic pains were disappearing almost magically overnight, and it felt like their age was being reversed. The most rapid development was in the physicality of Mildred Gunning. She started looking nearly 20 years younger.
The altar boys once see Father Paul mixing something in the potion, but they hesitate in asking. While everyone else was experiencing a newfound vigor, Father Paul’s health was deteriorating every passing day. One day he starts spitting blood and dies. Bev and the Mayor’s family don’t understand what exactly happened. Before they could react or do anything, Father woke up from his slumber. As if he was resurrected. Bev said that it bore a resemblance to the Good Shepherd, who was also once resurrected.
Things start to get even more gory and brutal when Father attacks Joe Collie, a recovering drunkard. Father Paul not only attacks him but starts drinking his blood, and that’s when a big revelation is made.
Who was Father Paul?
Father John Pruitt had gone to Jerusalem and did not come back to the Island. Father Paul was sent to Crockett Island as his replacement. He had told the people that Father Pruitt was admitted to a hospital due to bad health. But that was not the case.
Father Pruitt lost his way in Jerusalem as he was suffering an Alzheimer’s-like condition. A mythic creature attacked him in a cave. After a while, he regained his consciousness and realized that the beast sucked blood from his body which reversed his age and made him look like a 40-year-old person.
Father Paul and Father John Pruitt were the same people. People didn’t recognize him as he was looking way younger. The only catch here was he had to keep drinking the blood to keep his health up. The mythic creature whom they called the angel used to give him blood. But when he did not show up, Father couldn’t resist but attacked Joe Collie and drank his blood.
Bev Keane – The Real Monster of Midnight Mass
Due to her fanaticism and potential autocratic strains, Bev was by far the most dangerous and lethal character of Midnight Mass. For me, she was like that dictator who not only wanted to run the regime according to his whims and fancies but wanted to abolish the democratic framework and become an undisputed emperor. When Bev realizes that Father Paul has killed Joe Collie, she doesn’t even flinch once. Bev was unnerved as if it was the most normal thing to happen.
The supremacy of the Church and her beliefs was all she wanted. She was somebody who was opposed to the idea of diversity. She often scorns off at Sheriff Hassan as he practiced Islam. After getting awestruck by what he heard about Father Paul, Sheriff’s son decides to attend the mass, then Bev is ecstatic. The problem was not that Bev was an extremist, but she believed herself to be God’s favorite child. She kept herself in an exclusive position as if she was the most valued apostle of all.
What was inside Father John Paul’s trunk?
John Pruitt, who came back as Father Paul, did everything because he was in a secret relationship with Mildred Gunning. He went to Jerusalem and was bitten by this gothic creature. He saw the power of immortality and got lured by it. He could never disclose to anyone that Mildred Gunning’s daughter was actually his daughter too. He brought the creature in his bag and released it on the Island.
The creature was feeding on the cats until he killed all of them. He thought that if he fed Mildred also the blood, then she would also become young, and that would give them a second chance. A chance to lead their lives as they had always wanted to.
‘Midnight Mass’ Ending, Explained – What happens in the End?
Everybody is bitten by the gothic creature. They become immortal, but the lust for drinking blood comes in them. They start biting everyone who was not bitten and subsequently converting them also to blood-thirsty vampires.
Sheriff Hassan, Erin Greene, Dr. Sarah Gunning, together with Riley’s younger brother, Warren Flynn and Leeza somehow escape the premises of Church and refrain from drinking the potion and also being bitten by the creature. Once a person had consumed the blood, they couldn’t step out in the sun. Bev burns all the houses except one facility. She makes arrangements for all those who are converted into vampires to stay. But Father Paul realizes his mistake. He realizes the unnatural nature of events that have happened. His desires and his blind love towards Mildred brought havoc to the Island. But Bev was not ready to stop even if Father Paul turned hostile.
In the end of Midnight Mass, Erin sacrifices her life but cuts the creature’s wings so he can’t fly and find shade once the sun comes out. They burn the facility that Bev had created. Father Paul, together with Mildred Gunning, burns the Church also. With nowhere to go, Bev’s body and her intentions are burnt to ashes.
Streaming on Netflix, Midnight Mass is a well-researched series that webs an individual’s desire for power, fanaticism, extremism, lack of tolerance, stereotyping, and other relatable human emotions into a supernatural drama.
Though the series does become a bit preachy and elongated in the middle but intentions of the makers and the sincerity of the performers cannot be doubted at all. Do give it a watch!
Midnight Mass is a 2021 is a Drama Horror Television mini-series created by Mike Flanagan. It is streaming on Netflix.