Type keyword(s) to search

Recommended: The Midnight Club on Netflix

Mike Flanagan gives horror author Christopher Pike the excellent adaptation he deserves.
  • The cast of The Midnight Club probably shouldn't take that elevator. (Photo: Eike Schroter/Netflix)
    Subscribe to Primetimer's Recommended newsletter and get our guide to the very best series, movies and specials in your inbox every Friday.
    The Midnight Club Season 1 | Netflix
    10-Episode Horror Series | TV-MA

    What's The Midnight Club About?

    Supernatural forces are stalking a hospice for dying teenagers, and some of the young patients are determined to find out why. 

    Who's involved?

    • As part of his deal with Netflix, reigning TV horror auteur Mike Flanagan (The Haunting of Hill House, Midnight Mass) adapts the 1994 novel by Christopher Pike. It's the first major project based on one of Pike's books.
    • Iman Benson stars as Ilonka, a brilliant high schooler whose plans for college are derailed by terminal cancer. Chasing the hope of a cure, she convinces her dad to put her in Brightcliffe, a hospice for teenagers. Even before she arrives, she starts having visions, and once she's on the grounds, she uncovers unsettling facts about the place she's come to die.
    • At Brightcliffe, Ilonka quickly bonds with the other kids, who meet every night to tell scary stories as part of the so-called Midnight Club. The young ensemble includes Ruth Codd as Ilonka's angry-but-sensitive roommate Anya and Igby Rigney as Kevin, a cute boy with a few secrets of his own.
    • Scream queen Heather Langenkamp, star of the original Nightmare On Elm Street, is Dr. Stanton, the hospice's kind but mysterious founder. She tries not to show it, but she's unhappy when Ilonka starts asking questions.
    • Zach Gilford and Samantha Sloyan, who were both so memorable in Midnight Mass, are on hand as a compassionate nurse practionier and an eccentric local naturalist, respectively.

    Why (and to whom) do we recommend it?

    There's an almost sensual pleasure to the way Mike Flanagan uses language. Characters don't just talk: They unspool elegantly crafted monologues. Their speeches let us luxuriate in words, like we're huddled around a campfire instead of looking at a screen.

    That makes Flanagan the perfect person to adapt Christopher Pike's novel The Midnight Club, which is also about the power of storytelling. When the kids at Brightcliffe gather to tell their tales, they're trying to scare each other and entertain each other, but they're also trying to beat back death with the power of their imaginations.

    In that spirit, the show fully stages their stories, so that they become mini-movies. There's a new interlude in every episode, each with its own cinematic style, and all of them make room for delicious, vivid narration. When Amesh (Sauriyan Sapkota), who's obssesed with video games, tells the club about time-traveling computer programmers, he doesn't set the scene like some awkward 11th grader giving a book report. He has the eloquence to say, "That's the thing about being from the future. You don't have to wonder if you've changed to past. If you did, you'll know it, 'cause you'll change, too."  That's a little bit of sci-fi poetry tucked inside a horror show.

    It's incredibly satisfying to get these cinematic short stories in the middle of each episode. They not only provide the pleasure of an old-fashioned yarn with a beginning, middle, and end, but also keep us happily wondering which format the next story will take. It's exciting to watch how virtuosic the creative team can be as they pull off one format after another.

    Plus — and this is important — the mini-movies enhance our relationship with the central plot about Brightcliffe. We learn about Anya's loneliness, for instance, when she tells a story about a girl who splits herself into two bodies. When a deeply religious girl named Sandra (Annarah Cymone) tells a noir detective tale about a tragic teenage love affair, we understand the insecurity that's hiding beneath her faith. (The connection is even more palpable because the actors playing the kids are also the stars of the mini-movies.)

    Ultimately, the stories teach us so much about the storytellers that they make us care more about whatever's haunting them. We're not just rooting for a general group of teens. We're hoping these specific kids, who have expressed themselves so vividly, will stick around with us as long as possible. 

    Pairs well with

    • Midnight Mass, Flanagan's equally spiritual and equally gripping Netflix minseries about a so-called miracle that comes to an island community. 
    • Gerald's Game, Netflix's cracking film adaptation of Stephen King's novel about a woman who has to face her inner demons while she's chained to a bed.
    • True Detective Season 1. In its first season, the HBO drama used talk just as effectively as violence to explore the repercussions of a crime.

  • The Midnight Club (Season 1)
    All 10 episodes premiere October 7 on Netflix.
    Created by: Mike Flanagan and Leah Fong.
    Starring: Iman Benson, Igby Rigney, Ruth Codd, Heather Langenkamp, Samantha Sloyan, Zach Gilford, Annarah Cymone, and Sauriyan Sapkota.
    Directed by: Mike Flanagan.

    TOPICS: The Midnight Club, Netflix, Annarah Cymone, Heather Langenkamp, Igby Rigney, Iman Benson, Leah Fong, Mike Flanagan, Mike Flanagan, Ruth Codd, Samantha Sloyan, Sauriyan Sapkota, Zach Gilford