In recent years, the horror genre has seen a resurgence, with filmmakers pushing the boundaries of fear, suspense, the macabre, and even satire and dark comedy. From supernatural tales to psychological thrillers and historical satire, contemporary horror films are captivating audiences with their fresh take on fear. They delve into complex themes, offer unique storytelling, and provide audiences with experiences that linger long after the credits roll.
Netflix’s “Midnight Mass” is a gothic, supernatural horror series created by Mike Flanagan, known for his previous works in the horror genre, such as “The Haunting of Hill House” and “Doctor Sleep.” Like much of his work, this horror tale is an exploration of faith, redemption, and the darker aspects of human nature.
Set on the isolated Crockett Island, “Midnight Mass” introduces us to the tight-knit, devoutly Catholic community that resides there. Their lives are disrupted when Father Paul Hill (played by Hamish Linklater) returns to the island, reinvigorating their faith with charismatic sermons and miraculous events. However, as mysterious occurrences plague the island, it becomes evident that something far more sinister is afoot.
At its core, “Midnight Mass” delves into themes of faith, doubt, and the consequences of unwavering belief. The characters grapple with their personal demons, past sins, and the moral implications of their actions, all set against a backdrop of supernatural events that challenge their understanding of the world and the divine.
“Midnight Mass” is a masterclass in atmospheric horror. The show’s tension is palpable, as it skillfully builds dread through a combination of eerie settings, unsettling events, and chilling revelations. The series doesn’t rely on jump scares but rather on psychological horror and a growing sense of unease, making it a truly unsettling experience.
Mike Flanagan’s direction, combined with the exceptional cinematography by Michael Fimognari, creates a visually striking experience. The show’s use of light and shadow adds to the atmosphere and reinforces the themes of darkness and redemption.
Chilean director Pablo Larraín’s sharp-toothed satire “El Conde,” where his country’s most abominable monster, ruthless dictator Augusto Pinochet (Jaime Vadell), takes the form of a centuries-old vampire condemned to live forever in hiding after faking his death to avoid facing deserved punishment.
In the 18th century, Claude Pinoche, a royalist French soldier, is discovered to be a vampire and survives an attempt to kill him. Witnessing the French Revolution and the execution of Marie Antoinette, he fakes his death and flees abroad, participating in the suppression of revolutionary upheavals over the next centuries. Eventually, he ends up in Chile in 1935 and joins the Chilean Army under the name Augusto Pinochet. Rising to become a general, he overthrew the socialist government of Salvador Allende in 1973 and becomes the country’s dictator, while demanding that he be addressed as “The Count” by his family. When authorities begin investigating his ill-gotten wealth and human rights abuses after he leaves office, he fakes his death again and retires to a remote farm. After 250 years of existence he gradually loses his will to live, worrying his wife Lucia, and his long-time butler, Fyodor, a white Russian whom Pinochet bit and turned into a vampire
This vampire turns still beating organs into a pulp—with the help of some powerful blenders.
Coming to Chile in 1935 he joins the Chilean Army under the name Augusto Pinochet. Rising to become a general, he overthrows the socialist government of Salvador Allende in 1973 and becomes the country’s dictator, while demanding that he be addressed as “The Count” by his family. When authorities begin investigating his ill-gotten wealth and human rights abuses after he leaves office, he fakes his death again and retires to a remote farm. After 250 years of existence, he gradually loses his will to live, worrying his wife Lucia, and his long-time butler, Fyodor, a white Russian whom Pinochet bit and turned into a vampire.
Fyodor takes up Augusto’s military uniform and goes on a gruesome killing spree to find and consume human hearts in Santiago. Thinking that their father was responsible and anxious to receive their inheritance, the Pinochet children hire a nun, Carmen, to exorcise and kill Augusto under the guise of auditing the family’s wealth, and go to the farm, followed by Carmen. Carmen charms Augusto with her fluency in French, while he discovers that Fyodor is having an affair with Lucia but tolerates it as he has grown tired of her. Carmen extensively interviews the household about their legal troubles and finances, assembling a dossier that she hides in her room.
Carmen reveals her true identity as a nun to Augusto and tries to exorcise him, but is overwhelmed by his presence and ends up having sexual intercourse with him and allows him to transform her into a vampire. This prompts the arrival of Margaret Thatcher, who is revealed to Claude’s mother, as having abandoned him at an orphanage at birth after she was raped and bitten by a Strigoi. Margaret, jealous of Carmen’s claims to Augusto’s love, orders her son to kill her. Instead, Augusto shows off his wealth to Carmen, whereupon Carmen reveals that she has been feigning her attraction to him and that her becoming a vampire was part of her mission on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church to infiltrate the Pinochets and gather information on their corrupt dealings. As she flees, she is captured and guillotined by Fyodor, who burns her dossier.
Fyodor, Lucia and the Pinochet children then attempt to kill Augusto and Margaret to gain their inheritance, but Augusto kills Lucia by driving a stake through her heart and beheads Fyodor with a saw. As Augusto and Margaret rejuvenate themselves with vampire hearts and leave to start a new life, the children are left to salvage what they can of the farm. As they leave, Carmen’s fellow nuns arrive at the property. They are too late–the vampire’s hearts turn Augusto back into a child, free to relive his life once again.