Review by Tatiana Miranda
Mike Flanagan's newest horror series, The Midnight Club, comes to Netflix just in time for Halloween. Based on the novel of the same name by Christopher Pike, The Midnight Club is Flanagan at his best, and his most adventurous. Unlike his other Netflix series, such as Midnight Mass and The Haunting of Hill House, The Midnight Club has a teenage perspective. While this could infer some sense of seriousness lost, this is decidedly not the case as this series cleverly mixes bits of humor and teenage rebellion with the characters' pensive and dispiriting realities — the reality that they've all been diagnosed with a life-threatening disease and now reside at Brightcliffe Hospice. Whether it be a form of cancer or AIDS, the teenage members of the Midnight Club grapple with their mortality and the question of life after death. This question is at the heart of the series, as each member must vow to try to give any remaining living members some sort of sign from beyond the grave.
The series opens with hope as the main character, Ilonka, prepares to go to a college party with her freshly dyed hair and plans to attend Stanford the following fall. But a bloody cough and subsequent cancer diagnosis halt any plans of hers. She finds herself at Brightcliffe with a terminal diagnosis, and even then, she isn't as despondent as her peers. Instead, she secretly harbors hope and the knowledge of a woman from years prior who miraculously left the hospice healthy. As the series progresses, her seemingly misguided ambitions start to infect the other inhabitants of the hospice and lead to an unraveling of the hospice's dark history.
Beyond the supernatural and occult happenings at Brightcliffe, The Midnight Club's primary mode of jump scares and spooky stories come from the Midnight Club's nightly ritual. As Ilonka learns on her first night at the hospice, her peers secretly meet in the library every night at midnight to share ghost stories. Similar to Goosebumps and Are You Afraid of the Dark?, each episode features a new story told by one of the members of the Midnight Club. Filled with characters such as a murderous boyfriend and a dancer who deals with the devil, their stories are sometimes silly but usually a method of disguising their very real fears in life and beyond. Through each episode and its subsequent Midnight Club story, more is revealed about each of the characters, and, like all of Flanagan's works, the audience begins to root for them even against the unlikely odds stacked against them.
Less linear and likely more ambitious (here's to hoping those loose ends turn the show into a multi-season series), The Midnight Club is just as clever and exciting as Flanagan's most recent productions. For the most devout Flanagan enthusiasts or those looking to get into his work for the first time, The Midnight Club does not disappoint and is the perfect show to get you in the Halloween spirit.
The Midnight Club begins streaming on Netflix October 7th. All ten episodes reviewed.
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