REVIEW: ‘The Midnight Club’

Netflix’s ‘The Midnight Club’ is an emotional roller-coaster featuring a wildly talented young cast.

The Midnight Club is based on a series of books by author Christopher Pike. It tells the story of teenagers, all with terminal illnesses, who go to live out the rest of their lives at Brightcliffe Hospice. During their time at the hospice, the residents sneak out of their rooms late at night to take part in something called the Midnight Club. In this club, they share various stories all with the goal of trying to entertain/spook their fellow hospice patients. Simple premise, sure, and yet the series is so much more than merely a series of ghost tales.

The series adaptation stars Iman Benson as Ilonka, a young girl who was once readying to start college at Stanford University, but her plans are tossed out the door after a cancer diagnosis. After doing her best to fight it in hopes of getting her life back on track, Ilonka looks into other forms of treatment in an act of desperation. During her research, she stumbles upon Brightcliffe Hospice and a mysterious girl whose story will change her life going forward.

Those going into The Midnight Club with little knowledge of the books should know this isn’t necessarily a horror series. There will be some thrills occasionally, yes, but this is more of an emotional story than anything — and that’s a good thing. But it’s also something that works against it at times. As enjoyable as The Midnight Club is, it is often bogged down by depressing moments with very little moments of hope sewn throughout. Of course, a story about teens with terminal illnesses is unlikely to be hopeful, but sometimes the constant sense of dread can be emotionally draining. (Episode 7, in particular, packs a hell of an emotional punch.) Still, even with this, the show is worth watching, although, forgoing the usual weekend binge might provide the optimal viewing experience.

Perhaps one of the most exciting aspects of The Midnight Club is getting to see the main cast act out the spooky stories being told during the club. The young cast is incredibly talented and in the moments they get to explore these new characters, they seem to get lost in the stories. The ability to swiftly change personas is not an easy one, and yet, every single member of the Midnight Club does just that as they become the victims — and sometimes the killers — in the stories being told.

All in all, The Midnight Club is an emotional ride full of thrills and chills that will easily become a Halloween classic. It’s a “horror” series that focuses on learning to live while we’re still alive and building the families we so desperately need to survive. Just be prepared to have tissues on hand.

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