Thank you, Netflix, for providing us with screeners for an honest review of The Midnight Club. Be mindful that the review may contain spoilers for the series.
With fall and the spooky season in full swing now that October is here, I have the urge to binge tons of scary movies, TV, books and games. And what could be better than diving into a spooky TV series based on one of my favorite spooky books? That is where Netflix and Mike Flanagan‘s adaptation of The Midnight Club comes in. The series is based on the novel of the same name by Christopher Pike and promises to utterly terrify us.
The official description for The Midnight Club from Netflix reads:
Deep inside Brightcliffe Manor, a hospice for terminally ill teens, patients gather at the stroke of midnight to tell scary stories in the dark. But club membership comes with grave perks: Whoever dies first must send a sign from the other side.
The Midnight Club’s terminally ill teens are played by Iman Benson, Igby Rigney, Ruth Codd, Annarah Shephard, William Chris Sumpter, Adia and Aya Furukawa. They are joined by Sauriyan Sapkota, Matt Biedel, Samantha Sloyan, Zach Gilford, Rahul Kohli and Heather Langenkamp.
How Scary Are We Talking?
The Midnight Club, above all else, is a thrilling mystery series. And it delivers in the way Flanagan always does. When it was first announced that he would be the creative mind behind it, I knew I would need to see it. The Haunting of Hill House, The Haunting of Bly Manor and Midnight Mass are all testaments to his ability to deliver true horror and stories that keep viewers invested and on the edge of their seats. And it’s safe to say that this one is another win in the bag for him.
The series teeters beautifully between supernatural horror and the very real horrors of what it is to deal with your inevitable death. The nature of The Midnight Club is built around the club the teens take part in. So each episode features a portion or a whole story told by one of the members. These stories see the cast take on different roles, though it is pretty clear that they are in some way, shape or form connected to what is really going on in their lives. These stories aren’t terrifying on their own, but they do add suspense to each episode.
The real bread and butter of the horror come in what is hiding in the shadows. There are many moments where shadows shift or whispers are heard as someone leaves a room or walks down a dark hall. And the elevator itself is terrifying enough that I don’t ever plan on setting foot in it. But what makes these moments even more startling is that there are subtle nods that these moments may not be all that they seem. Are there really supernatural events taking place? Or are the drugs and stress causing these hallucinations?
A Killer Cast
The first thing that came to mind while watching The Midnight Club was how fantastic the casting is. Of course, we have some Flanagan regulars, Biedel, Sloyan, Gilford, Cymone, Ridney and Kohli, alongside one of the most iconic scream queens, Langenkamp. But the casting for the teens is impeccable. As the leads of the series, the casting needed to be strong, and now I couldn’t imagine anyone else in the roles. Benson (Ilonka) does a terrific job leading the series and taking us through this mysterious tale.
But the real skill is how the cast not only plays the teens but also fits into the role of the characters within the scary stories. Each of the stories takes on a different tone from the series. Honestly, I would love to see some of these stories get their own series to allow us to further explore the terrifying tales being told. My first suggestion is Anya’s (Codd) story about the two Danas told in episode two. Even Sandra’s (Cymone) noir detective story is something I would love to see more of.
Did It Meet Expectations?
Christopher Pike’s horror novels were a staple in my childhood and The Midnight Club is one of my favorites. There was something beautiful yet terrifying to read about teenagers coping with the end of their lives. It is also a subject that can be hard to portray without becoming too dark or depressing. Pike walked that fine line and provided a book that, even to this day, is one of my favorites of all time. But, sometimes, those are the hardest to allow to become adapted. The ones that we overly judge against the source material.
Thankfully, Flanagan exceeded my expectations with his adaptation of The Midnight Club. He allows us to see the emotional struggles of the teens while still providing elements of suspense and horror around them. Just like Pike, he manages to walk this fine line. There is a constant reminder that Brightcliffe Manor is a hospice center and that this is most likely the last chance the teens have at being teens. But, just like Anya and the others, we aren’t allowed to mourn them before they are gone.
So, should you watch it? Yes. In fact, hell yes. The Midnight Club is a terrific series that explores the emotional journey at the end of our lives while also terrifying us. Should you binge it? Well, that is an entirely different story. I watched the series over a week, and being allowed to take time between each episode was great. It allowed me to explore my feelings about each episode and try and decide what I thought was real or their imagination. But I also believe that scary series work better when binged since the fear and excitement are piled on perfectly.
The Midnight Club hits Netflix on October 7, 2022. Will you be checking it out? Let us know in the comments below and on social media!
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