The primary time Mike Flanagan tried to adapt Christopher Pike’s younger grownup novel The Midnight Membership, Pike’s writer despatched Flanagan a stop and desist letter. Now, after carving out a profession of “status horror” choices — from the critically acclaimed Haunting anthology to Midnight Mass — the director has lastly earned a shot at taking over Pike’s materials.
The Midnight Membership, a 10-episode first season streaming on Netflix, appears and seems like a chapter from the Flanaverse. But it has all of the hallmarks of a younger grownup fantasy. It is populated by ghosts, witches, zombies, cyborgs, aliens and extra. Its elevator pitch: The Fault in Our Stars meets Are You Afraid of the Darkish?
However The Midnight Membership is way extra disturbing than it sounds. A serial killer, a cult and reflections on mortality elevate The Midnight Membership to a extra refined realm. At its core, The Midnight Membership is a shifting portrait of these processing their impending demise, when their lives have barely begun.
The Midnight Membership itself is the identify of a gathering between terminally in poor health teenage sufferers at Brightcliffe Hospice. These sufferers — Sandra (Annarah Cymone), Anya (Ruth Codd), Spence (Chris Sumpter), Natsuki (Aya Furukawa), Kevin (Igby Rigney), Cheri (Adia) and Amesh (Sauriyan Sapkota) — creep into the library at evening to inform one another ghost tales. Drawn from different Pike novels and performed out as mini-movies, these fantastical tales replicate actuality greater than you’d assume. They permit the sufferers, going through their mortality, to depart one thing behind after they’re gone.
The newcomer to those longstanding halls is Ilonka (Iman Benson). A once-prospective Stanford pupil, Ilonka’s future fades with the ringing in her ears when she receives a surprising physician’s analysis. Together with her fiercely vivid and curious thoughts, Ilonka is the right investigator into the unusual happenings at Brightcliffe. Other than a “possessed” elevator and a ghost creepily named Cataract Girl, a thriller a few potential remedy propels the principle story ahead.
Like ’80s-set The Haunting of Bly Manor, The Midnight Membership is a interval piece. Set within the ’90s, it drops era-specific different/indie songs over the credit. An eerie glare shines over characters dialing up the web on their chunk computer systems. In stark distinction, Brightcliffe breathes the 1900s. The design of this haunted home is meticulous. Round occultist symbols are seemingly echoed within the stained glass home windows and arch hallways — or is that only a charming coincidence?
Just like Midnight Mass, The Midnight Membership dangles a veracity to its unattainable components, in order that its essential characters would possibly simply assume a magical remedy is actual. With characters so near the brink of demise, any escape, regardless of how fantastical, is price exploring.
In delicate discussions, different figures — comparable to mysterious Dr. Georgina Stanton, performed by scream queen royalty Heather Langenkamp from A Nightmare on Elm Road — advocate accepting demise and appreciating life. Others search to lengthen life by way of less-established means, comparable to hippy-type Shasta, performed by an always-magnetic Samantha Sloyan. Together with Rahul Kohli and Zach Gilford, Sloyan is one among a number of from Flanagan’s common performing troupe to assist inform his newest story.
Inevitably among the ghost tales are extra thrilling, shifting and distressing than others, however all of them match surprisingly easily into the framework of episodic mini-movies. It is the climax of the ten episodes, the identical size as The Haunting of Hill Home, that does not essentially repay in a means that wallops you within the chest — a facet impact of organising the sequence for extra to come back.
Nonetheless, as a complete, season 1 is immense. It won’t be the identical private tour de power exposé on religion as Midnight Mass, however The Midnight Membership echoes a compelling meditation on perception and its capability to heal. Co-created with Bly Manor producer and author Leah Fong, The Midnight Membership is a cautious, sleek illustration of youngsters reconciling with terminal ailments and demise. It offers with different severe areas — self-harm, intercourse, alcohol and medicines — however tragedy is not the defining issue. The Brightcliffe children all have a humorousness. With compassion connecting them, love is the prevailing power regardless of how darkish the corridors grow to be.
Ailing heroes face their impending doom in Mike Flanagan’s tackle younger grownup horror. The Midnight Membership is a singular, absorbing dissection of the facility of perception — reaching far past the realm of standard teenage fare.