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“The Midnight Club” is a love letter to horror-obsessed teens past, present, and future and should spawn a new generation of Pike enthusiasts.

“To those before. To those after. To us now. And to those beyond. Seen or unseen. Here but not here.”

Based on the novels of Christopher Pike, Mike Flanagan and Leah Fong offer viewers a series filled with teen frights and plenty of heart with The Midnight Club. (Flanagan faithfuls will recognize Fong’s name as a writer and producer on The Haunting of Bly Manor.)

If adult fans of Pike and Flanagan approach the show expecting an adult story, they will be disappointed; this show isn’t made with adults in mind. And that is perhaps one of its greatest and most admirable strengths.

However, it will speak to the teenagers we once were, creating an interesting exercise in self-compassion for adult viewers.

Flanagan and Fong have created a timely and important entry to the canon of teen horror. It’s a show young people desperately need in a cultural landscape that feels more like a death cult than a nurturing environment cultivated with youth stability and safety in mind. 

Ilonka Pawluk (Iman Benson) is dying. The ambitious teen is more interested in going to college than chemo treatments, but that’s not the hand she was dealt.

After learning her cancer is terminal, Ilonka searches for answers, coming across Brightcliffe, a hospice for young people with terminal illnesses.

Once, many years ago, a patient walked out of Brightcliffe completely cured, a young woman with the same cancer as Ilonka herself.

Brightcliffe is run by Doctor Georgina Stanton (Heather Langenkamp) and is a place where young people can die with dignity and autonomy.

At Brightcliffe, Ilonka meets a group of teens who similarly have one foot in the grave. They include Anya (Ruth Codd), Kevin (Igby Rigney), Sandra (Annarah Cymone), Natsuki (Aya Furukawa), Spence (William Chris Sumpter), Cheri (Adia), and Amesh (Sauriyan Sapkota).

Soon Ilonka becomes integrated into the group and a full-fledged member of what the teens call The Midnight Club, a gathering at midnight where they all tell one another stories they’ve created.

While the stories are enthralling, a real-life mystery starts to present itself as The Midnight Club discovers the secrets of Brightcliffe. 

Those who are familiar with Pike may be able to divine some of the show’s story beats, but it expertly melds several of Pike’s most memorable novels into the framework of The Midnight Club.

This is a series that has Pike and his penchant for teenage storytelling at the center of it.

The admiration for Pike and his prowess keeps the show interesting while making it its own unique media under the watchful eyes of Flanagan and Fong. It is filled with suspense and heart and is crafted not unlike The Haunting of Bly Manor in the way that it blends together many works by one author.

My advice is to go in knowing as little as possible, avoiding all spoilers, and perhaps armed with a copy of The Midnight Club as a guide if you’re the intrepid sort. 

The Midnight Club sets itself apart from Flanagan’s other works in its scope and its target audience. Flanagan has become synonymous with adult horror, but this show is squarely for teens. With Fong, he continues to create something different yet still a worthy entry into Flanagan’s larger canon.

Long-time fans won’t be disappointed, nor will they mind that the show is made with teens in mind.

However, those who have little interest in teen issues and stories might not connect with the show right away, but there is plenty enough thematic content and creepiness for them to appreciate. 

As a whole, the show is tightly written and directed, a beautifully collaborative effort with all hands on deck.

However, Axelle Carolyn’s episodes — six and seven — shine brightly as narrative turning points that are exquisitely rendered.

If there is any justice or merit to award shows, Carolyn would be a shoo-in for directing nominations. But if Midnight Mass is any indication, award shows just don’t care about expertly crafted horror, and it’s a pity.

Nonetheless, Carolyn truly shows her mettle as an episodic director once again, further proving that not only is Flanagan talented himself, but he also has a keen eye for talent.

Flanagan himself penned episode six with the help of Chinaka Hodge (the showrunner of the upcoming Marvel miniseries Ironheart), and seven is written solely by Jamie Flanagan, proving himself a powerhouse storyteller in his own right. 

I can’t say that there is a poor performance in The Midnight Club.

All of the young newcomers hold their own with seasoned performers, showing that they are the future of the craft.

Midnight Mass cast members Igby Rigney and Annarah Cymone get to show more of their exceptional range and do so with a soft sincerity. Iman Benson demands attention as Ilonka, deftly guiding the audience through mystery after mystery with steadfast dedication.

William Chris Sumpter, Aya Furukawa, Adia, and Sauriyan Sapkota provide robust performances, crafting characters that are raw and emotionally gravitational.

Furukawa is the focus of an important episode, all of which she handles expertly and allows the audience to finally truly know Natsuki.

Irish disability advocate Ruth Codd gives one of the most heart-wrenching performances of the entire series that is infused with wit, anger, and love.

The core actors and their chemistry with one another make the whole show seem effortless.

It would be criminal not to mention how magnetic Heather Langenkamp still is.

That familiar sparkle in her eyes proves that she is just as talented and as lively as she was when she embodied Nancy in A Nightmare on Elm Street all those years ago. Langenkamp has the time of her life with this role, and longtime fans will relish her take on the character and the material.

Flanagan mainstay Samantha Sloyan is also one to watch out for in the cast. There’s truly not a character or situation Sloyan cannot tackle, and Shasta is no different. Sloyan makes the hippie archetype fun and interesting instead of trite and stale.

Of course, be on the lookout for more Flanagan favorites. There are quite a few in store for the diehard fans. 

You can expect the same level of technical mastery that you have become accustomed to with Flanagan productions. The sets are marvelous — as are the styling and costuming. It feels and looks like the production is set in the 90s without making the nostalgia a novelty. The Newton Brothers produce another nervy score, adding to the show’s singularly creepy atmosphere.

Decadent shots make the show beautiful to look at, even in its most horrific and sad moments. 

THE MIDNIGHT CLUB is a part of the continued revival of teen-targeted horror, creating a bridge between beginning horror and advanced horror that all fans can easily enjoy. Mike Flanagan and Leah Fong launch a stellar start to what has the potential to be a great series.

Fingers crossed, Netflix bites on a second season, and we all get to visit Brightcliffe for a few more seasons to come. In the meantime, pack your bags and get ready to immerse yourself in your brand-new Netflix obsession.

Overall Rating (Out of 5 Butterflies): 5

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