Created by Mike Flanagan and Leah Fong and based on the novel by Christopher Pike, THE MIDNIGHT CLUB is a Netflix series about how we cope with death. I love Flanagan’s work, but out of all his creations, this one was weakest for me.
In an upscale hospice, eight terminally ill young adults wait to die. Each night at midnight, they gather in the library to tell ghost stories. Ilonka (Iman Benson) believes the house is special, holding a secret that can heal her of her disease, and soon she begins to experience ghostly visions. Everything leads her to a book, and the book to an ancient ritual…
The show feels very young adult with its familiar, sometimes cringe-worthy tropes that are hit or miss with this old guy. As I’m not the target audience for this show, I can’t really fault the show for it. As with other Flanagan works, there are very long stretches of dialogue around a striking theme, in this case how we deal with death. There are a lot of good elements here: the hospice setting, the dying children desperate for hope, the lore around the ancient ritual, and a possible haunting. The best part for me was the ghost stories the characters told in their club, which often revealed parts of themselves.
On the downside, I feel like MIDNIGHT MASS covered the theme better, there are several storylines that simply vanish without resolution, and the desperate ambiguity of the theme–is death oblivion or a door–is given a cop-out at the end. The unfinished storylines and final little reveal at the end, coupled with Flanagan’s own statements, suggests the story will continue. Honestly, I don’t think it needs it, but the show’s fans may feel differently.
Overall, THE MIDNIGHT CLUB has a lot of good elements that didn’t quite come together for me and overall felt unfinished. I’m still a Flanagan fan, but I hope he’ll move on to something else for his next project. The world needs his brand of horror.