THE MIDNIGHT CLUB
Do tell them Pike
UK/US Netflix, streaming now Showrunners Mike Flanagan,
Cast Iman Benson, Igby Rigney, Ruth Codd, Heather Langenkamp
Mike Flanagan’s latest (co-created with Leah Fong and based on the 1994 YA book by Christopher Pike) is a curious hybrid of teen drama, ghost story and horror anthology.
Ilonka (Iman Benson) is a young woman with seemingly everything ahead of her, until a diagnosis of thyroid cancer places her in Brightcliffe Hospice, a rural retreat for terminal teens. The building has a strange history which includes hauntings and at least one religious cult, but it also appears to have cured at least one former resident thanks to an
A curious hybrid of teen drama, ghost story and horror anthology
apparent “healing vortex”. While investigating all this, Ilonka makes friends with the other sickly teens and each night they gather to tell one another spooky stories.
Despite the heavy premise, The Midnight Club is more often warm and witty than it is bleak or depressing. The young cast are terrific, particularly Ruth Codd as the acerbic Anya, and the central mystery is engaging – though it’s often sidelined due to the series’ unusual format. Because while this is primarily an ongoing drama, each episode also has to squeeze in one of the stories told by the Midnight Club. These metanarratives adapt various other Pike stories and reflect different aspects of the characters. It’s a neat conceit, but one that has the habit of dragging the show to a halt just as things are getting interesting. That’s especially apparent in the finale, which offers plenty of tearful catharsis and answers none of your questions about the bigger picture.
This is a show about storytelling and the way it can bring comfort and forge bonds in difficult times. That’s a beautiful message, but it never quite grips like the best of Flanagan’s previous work.
The Midnight Club has set a new Guinness world record for the most scripted jump scares in a single TV episode (21).