Midnight Mass: The Art of Horror–New book documents more than the making of a series

Review by C.J. Bunce

Midnight Mass is Netflix’s follow-on series to its successful horror story, The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor.  Continuing to employ cast and crew from that series, Midnight Mass was the brainchild and pet project of creator Mike Flanagan, who has amassed his own portfolio of horror thrillers, directing everything from Oculus to the sequel to The Shining to the Ouija Board movie.  In Abbie Bernstein’s look behind the movie, Midnight Mass: The Art of Horror, fans of horror and Flanagan’s work will encounter more than the steps to get this series from idea to your television screen.

First, Midnight Mass: The Art of Horror provides rare insight into the writing process.  Flanagan had been carrying the idea behind the film around for years, dropping references to it as an Easter egg in his other projects.  Flanagan’s key idea was situating an examination of the parallels between Catholicism’s story of Christ’s communion and the blood of Christ with a vampire story.  It’s a subject that might not sit well with all audiences (along with scenes depicting dead animals, all made by the prop department), but in the book Flanagan provides the explanation for his approach to these concepts, along with addressing numerous political and social issues in his story.

Not only are readers going to see the expected look at each actor–including interviews–visual and special effects, and the creation of environments for the film, author Bernstein gets Flanagan to address the series’ themes.  It may sound like an obvious thing, but most books don’t look at the writing process.

Midnight Mass: The Art of Horror is also one of the projects caught in the pandemic.  A village was literally built from scratch for the series in the days leading up to the shutdown of the world for COVID-19, including the selected shooting areas in Canada.  This meant the production was left to wait as the buildings simply sat for months.  This turned out to be good news for a horror show, as the growth provided that much more creepy realism to the coastal community featured in the series.  Several movie chronicles are skipping over the struggles with the pandemic, but Bernstein documents here the detailed approach the production took to keep their crew safe.  Ultimately this makes for an interesting historical document of our times for the future.

For fans of the series and its creator, Midnight Mass: The Art of Horror is now available here at Amazon in a hardcover edition filled with interviews and full color, behind-the-scenes photographs.  A twisted tale of terror, the seven episodes of Midnight Mass are streaming now on Netflix.


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