Why 'Midnight Mass' Avoids Using the Term 'Vampire' - scenesing - TV - GAMING - MOVIES
HOME » Why ‘Midnight Mass’ Avoids Using the Term ‘Vampire’

Why ‘Midnight Mass’ Avoids Using the Term ‘Vampire’

by Lidia Lucovic

The entity depicted as a monster in ‘Midnight Mass’ essentially embodies vampire characteristics; however, the series intentionally refrains from explicitly labeling it as such. This deliberate choice made by Mike Flanagan stems from the thematic essence of the show, aiming to avoid categorization strictly as a ‘vampire show.’ After the success of Flanagan’s Netflix horror series, ‘The Haunting of Hill House,’ and its standalone follow-up, ‘Bly Manor,’ the director embarked on a new, unsettling trajectory with ‘Midnight Mass.’ This project, deeply rooted in Flanagan’s personal experiences and fears, employs the concept of a vampire-like creature in the narrative to delve into universally relatable human anxieties, including faith, guilt, sobriety, forgiveness, loss, and death.

Midnight Mass” unfolds in the remote and dwindling community of Crockett Island, where the arrival of a charismatic young priest reignites the community’s thirst for belief. As the narrative unfolds, the characters grapple with a series of peculiar divine occurrences that challenge their faith. These miracles, portrayed as acts of God, are ultimately unveiled to be the doings of the vampire-like entity in Midnight Mass, which the characters misinterpret as an angel. The town partakes in communion by consuming the vampire’s blood, seeking healing for their ailments, only to succumb and transform into bloodthirsty vampires themselves. This portrayal sheds light on the perils of religious extremism, drawing a stark parallel between Catholicism and vampiric mythology. The reluctance to explicitly term the creatures as “vampires” in Midnight Mass stems from various narrative and thematic reasons, leading to confusion among viewers regarding their true nature—whether angelic, vampiric, or something altogether different.

While the threat to the town in “Midnight Mass” unmistakably embodies the traits of a vampire, this term is deliberately omitted throughout the entire series. This deliberate choice primarily stems from the characters’ religious perspective, interpreting the unfolding events as a divine gift, thus referring to the entity simply as an “angel” within the series. During an interview for Netflix Geeked (via Twitter), Flanagan emphasized a specific and significant reason for the deliberate avoidance of the term “vampire.” Flanagan highlighted that “Midnight Mass” does not align with the traditional vampire narrative because the entity embodies a deeper representation of “fanaticism and fundamentalism.” While the creature holds a pivotal role in “Midnight Mass,” the core essence of the series does not align with the typical vampire storyline.

The renowned horror director further supported this perspective by underscoring that the inclusion of the term “vampire” would confine the entire show within the confines of centuries-old vampire lore. The extensive history of vampire fiction, from Bram Stoker’s Dracula to Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot, has established a plethora of tropes and expectations over centuries. Embracing the term “vampire” would inevitably lead to comparisons and categorization based on these established mythologies.

Instead, “Midnight Mass” relies on explicit visuals and recognizable tropes to unmistakably establish the entity as a vampire, albeit redefined within the unique framework of the series. Additionally, presenting it as a conventional “vampire story” would oversimplify the narrative by casting the creature as the sole monster, overlooking the central conflict among the human characters and their beliefs.

Flanagan delves into the symbiotic relationship between vampire folklore and specific iconography found in the Bible, notably referencing the imagery of “rivers of blood” and “angels descending to slaughter children,” both of which are interwoven in “Midnight Mass” to draw connections between religion and the vampiric entity. This vampire association enriches the horror elements in the series, integrating what he perceives as the most chilling aspects of the Bible into a more approachable and familiar horror archetype. By deliberately avoiding the explicit use of the term “vampire” (as mentioned by Kate Siegel on Twitter), which would immediately bring centuries of mythological expectations, “Midnight Mass” adeptly tailored the creature to suit its profound themes rather than conforming to generic anticipations.

“Midnight Mass” made a deliberate choice to steer clear of the term “vampire,” allowing the show to portray these iconic creatures on its own terms and craft a distinctive narrative around them. The vampire genre has been undergoing a reinvention phase for a considerable period; the image of Dracula portrayed by Bela Lugosi differs significantly from Edward Cullen in Twilight.

Despite the constant redefinition of genre tropes, there are certain fundamental principles that should be adhered to, and “Midnight Mass” skillfully managed to bypass them. The results of this decision are evident in the series’ success, evident by its 86% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and widespread critical acclaim.

Similar to the deliberate choice in “28 Days Later,” where the word “zombies” is never mentioned, “Midnight Mass” successfully carved out a fresh narrative in the vampire genre without ever utilizing the term “vampire.” Belonging to a genre doesn’t imply strict adherence to its conventions—some of the most captivating and thought-provoking projects emerge from challenging these norms. “Midnight Mass” epitomizes this approach, and the narrative is enriched by it.

In a parallel fashion, “The Walking Dead” approached the depiction of zombies, analogous to how “Midnight Mass” handled vampires. In “The Walking Dead,” the creatures commonly known as zombies are referred to as Walkers, Creepers, Lurkers, among other terms, but the direct term “zombie” is intentionally avoided. Unlike “Midnight Mass,” which primarily uses the term “angel” for its creature, “The Walking Dead” offers a variety of names for the undead based on different groups and locations within the storyline. If “Midnight Mass” had a broader geographical setting beyond a single small town, a similar approach might have been adopted.

The Walking Dead” avoids using the term “zombies” for a distinct reason compared to “Midnight Mass.” In the world of “The Walking Dead,” zombies are not part of pop culture, presenting a stark contrast to the real world where the notion of zombies is well-known. Similar to “Midnight Mass,” this intentional choice adds depth to the narrative. In “The Walking Dead,” the true horror often stems from human interactions and the survival dynamics rather than mere encounters with the Walkers. The deliberate avoidance of the term “zombies” allows the show to intricately develop both its human and undead threats.

Consequently, when the series commences and characters encounter Walkers for the first time, there are no preconceived notions or popular myths guiding their understanding of these creatures—no established ideas on how to combat them or what to anticipate from them based on popular culture. Instead, the characters must learn about the Walkers’ traits, weaknesses, and strategies to ensure their safety as the narrative unfolds. This approach enriches the storytelling and world-building, contributing to a more engaging and immersive experience. The same storytelling principle applies to “Midnight Mass.

Related Posts

Leave a Comment