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Netflix’s “The Midnight Club” Is More All Saints Day than Halloween

Netflix's "The Midnight Club" cast
Netflix's "The Midnight Club" cast

“To those before

To those after

To us now

And to those beyond

Seen or unseen

Here but not here”

The Midnight Club Toast

Upon watching the latest horror series on Netflix by the spooky golden boy Mike Flanagan (“The Haunting of Hill House”, “Midnight Mass”), I wasn’t taken by surprise by the jumpscares, writing or characters. Instead, I was shocked to discover within the first episode that the main cast have a ritual that felt downright… apostolic. Accidentally, it seems that The Midnight Club would make a better All Saints Day binge than a Halloween one.

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A Different Kind of Scary

Mike Flanagan has become well-known for brutal and scathing presentation of family drama, haunted spaces and cursed relationships. With his viral success in last year’s Midnight Mass, which I analyzed here, fans couldn’t wait to see what his next project would bring.

When the plot was revealed, few understood what Flanagan had in store: a story centered around a mysterious hospice home for terminally ill children. It would be challenging to come up with a group I’d much less like to see haunted than children, let alone those faced with a terminal diagnosis. 

As more was presented, it became clear that brutal deaths would likely not be the hallmark of this show. While there were plenty of jumpscares and unsettling themes, the true magic of “The Midnight Club” came through its use of the titular club. 

The Historic Midnight Club

When our main character Ilonka arrives at the Brightcliffe Hospice, she is quickly thrust into the Midnight Club, a group of patients who meet at midnight and tell frightening stories to one another. This is a traditional group with the express purpose and oath that, should any of them pass on from this life, they will return as a ghost and give some kind of noticeable sign to those remaining assuring them that the afterlife is a reality. 

Other than the chills that happen when we realize this is a group of children who just want hope that there is more to life than their illness, each of the stories is haunting in its own way in how it dramatizes versions of the deepest fears of each patient. 

An important aspect presented by this spooky storytelling session is how the group is brought to order. At the start of each club meeting, those gathered raise a toast:

“To those before

To those after

To us now

And to those beyond

Seen or unseen

Here but not here”

It’s all at once haunting and hopeful. But, if we’re honest, this could be slotted into the liturgy of Holy Communion with little challenge. 

The Church Triumphant & Eucharist

In the United Methodist Tradition, we affirm the Apostles’ Creed and understand the line where we believe in ‘the communion of Saints’ as a literal belief that those who believe and have passed on from this life are present in the act of remembrance that is communion, or the “Eucharist”. We affirm that those who die here on earth to be transitioned to the Church Triumphant - undeniably present in the Body of Christ even while not bodily present on Earth.

As Rev. Katie Shockley explains, “When we celebrate Holy Communion, we feast with past, present, and future disciples of Christ. … This faith community stretches beyond space and time. We commune with Christians around the world, believers who came before us, and believers who will come after us.”

That should sound very familiar since it is hauntingly similar to the words of the children in “The Midnight Club”. They even use food and drink as the conduit for the bond together!

The Importance of Communing

While it is important to make clear that the differences between the Eucharist and the Midnight Club toast are plenty, it should also be noted that the similarities are important for understanding some of our own cultures as Christians.

We practice Communion because it was taught. 

As Jesus sat with the disciples in the Upper Room (John 14), the command was made clear: as often as you gather in the name of Jesus, break this bread and share this cup. 

The children of the Midnight Club were taught a similar practice and had it handed down for generations at this point. There are plenty who have come before and, by their own oath, will come after they are gone. 


We practice Communion because we are called to remember.


When Jesus instituted the sacrament, it was to be done in remembrance of Jesus and the sacrifice that he was about to make. This sacrifice would break his body as the bread breaks. It would spill his blood as the cup of wine is spilled.

The Midnight Club is remembering and honoring the lives of the other ill persons who have passed on from this life.

We in the church practice Communion because we believe all are present in the act.

While I personally think that World Communion Sunday should be every Sunday (if not more often), we mark that as a holy day because, as the Body of Christ, we understand that Communion is bigger than any church or denomination. Not only are all present in Communion physically, but also metaphysically with those of the Church Triumphant. 

In the same way, the Midnight Club children don’t limit the toast to those ‘seen and here,’ but also those ‘unseen and not here.’ 

“To Us Now”

Much like in his other works, Mike Flanagan has stumbled into one of the best religious explorations of pressing themes. While it seems that his faith may take a stance more reminiscent of doubt if not hostility towards the church, his art, again and again, provides learning opportunities for those who call themselves Christians. 

I hope for a better future for the children in “The Midnight Club” (and a season two, am I right?). But most importantly, I stand tall in the hope of a Savior remembered by the Body of Christ that spans time, space, and the Netflix algorithm.

Rev. Nathan Webb of Checkpoint ChurchNathan Webb is a major nerd in just about every way. He loves video games, anime, cartoons, comic books, tech, and his fellow nerds. Hoping to provide a spiritual community for people with similar interests, he founded Checkpoint Church--"the church for nerds, geeks and gamers." Nathan can be found lurking on some visual novel subreddit, reading the latest shōnen entry, or playing the newest Farm Sim. Nathan is an ordained provisional elder in the United Methodist Church in the Western North Carolina Conference. He hosts a weekly newsletter podcast: To The Point.

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