To this day I’ve never been able to predict the ending of a Mike Flanagan work, and The Midnight Club was no exception. Flanagan’s newest masterpiece tells the story of a group of terminally ill young adults and their pact to reach out to each other from beyond the grave.
If you’re a fan of Mike Flanagan movies and TV shows, his new series doesn’t disappoint. It was hard not to fall in love with all the patients at Briarwood, but a few in particular even rank as some of the best characters in all Mike Flanagan movies and TV shows.
There are SPOILERS within, so don’t read this article until AFTER you finish The Midnight Club. Open up Netflix, binge the entire series, and then continue. This is a list of the greatest, most memorable characters in the horror director's filmography, including Ilonka and Anya.
Anya (Ruth Codd) - The Midnight Club
Flanagan has become known for using similar rosters of actors in all his works, but a new addition in The Midnight Club was Irish actress Ruth Codd. She gave life to Anya, the cynical but fiercely loyal patient at Briarwood who’s bound to a wheelchair after an above-the-knee amputation.
Anya definitely became a standout favorite from the season, thanks to Codd’s biting delivery of scornful insults and the heartbreaking backstory of Anya’s life. Even though the character is the first of the club to pass away, she’s the one who leaves the biggest impression on the group.
Riley (Zach Gilford) - Midnight Mass
All the actors in Mike Flanaghan’s rolodex are incredible—but Zach Gilford specifically has the ability to completely embody each character he plays in a totally separate way.
Compare Midnight Mass’ Riley to Gilford’s character in The Midnight Club, Mark. Riley walks through life with sadness and pain weighing on him—a weight there’s no trace of on Gilford’s optimistic, kind-hearted nurse character in The Midnight Club.
A recovering addict, Riley must cope with the knowledge that his bad decisions have hurt people, including a young girl who lost her life while he was behind the wheel drunk. It’s hard to imagine feeling so much empathy and compassion for a person like that. But we do in Midnight Mass, which is why ultimate Riley’s redemption arc is definitely one for the books.
Bev Keane (Samantha Sloyan) - Midnight Mass
The list wouldn’t be complete without a character or two we love to hate. In Midnight Mass, that character was undoubtedly Bev.
Bev is a character who knows everything, or at least she acts that way. Samantha Sloyan did a perfect job of portraying that piety as well as the underlying factors that made Bev the way she was. She was just a mortal woman, but she was terrifying—right up until the moments before the bitter end.
Ilonka (Imon Benson) - The Midnight Club
The main character of The Midnight Club is Ilonka, a high schooler with straight-A who's a future Stanford student, whose senior year is upended by a devastating diagnosis.
Ilonka is so compelling to me because we see her go from a person with a main character complex to a young woman who has fully come to terms with her own death. At the beginning, Ilonka is bold, headstrong, and sometimes even frustrating in her crusade to cure herself and her friends, but by the end of the season we see a woman who has made some sort of peace with herself.
I could never make my mind up about Ilonka. She’s so stubborn, but she’s also a perfect representation of how smart people can get caught up in cults. Ilonka was even smart enough to convince all her friends to do the very same thing Shasta did to her. Then again, that big plot twist in the final moments of the finale suggests she actually might be a girl so willful and clever that she literally outsmarted cancer.
Theo (Kate Siegel) - The Haunting Of Hill House
Many characters from the ensemble cast of The Haunting of Hill House could make this list, but one of the most unforgettable from the Netflix miniseries was Theodora Crain.
Theo was born with the ability to feel what other people have felt through touch, a gift that has led her to wear gloves in her day to day life. She doesn’t always hide her gift, though—she works as a social worker, particularly on cases involving children.
Theo would be a pretty spectacular character even without her supernatural abilities thanks to Kate Siegel, but her ability to feel others’ feelings is what earns her a spot on this list.
Jessie (Carla Gugino) - Gerald’s Game
Another character we can’t leave off the list is Jessie from Mike Flanagan’s 2017 Steven King adaptation horror film, Gerald’s Game.
Jessie spends pretty much the entire movie trapped in handcuffs, but still manages to be one of the most badass characters Flanagan has created. Aside from the fact that she cheats death, Jessie also uses her abusive late husband’s money to establish a foundation for victims of abuse.
Nell (Victoria Pedretti) - The Haunting Of Hill House
I’m a huge fan of You’s Victoria Pedretti, who played Nell in The Haunting of Hill House. Nell is a girl who has been tortured her entire life by terrifying visions that manifest as episodes of sleep paralysis.
The Haunting of Hill House makes you fall in love with Nell, which only makes the reveal of the Bent-Neck Lady at the end even more tragic. The ending, however heartbreaking, at least meant that Nell got to heal her inner child by joining her parents in the house.
Dani (Victoria Pedretti) - The Haunting of Bly Manor
Victoria Pedretti’s next main role with Mike Flanagan was for The Haunting of Bly Manor, where she played Dani.
Dani is on this list because of her selflessness. Not only does she sacrifice herself first by letting Viola inhabit her body, she completely does it again when she drowns in the lake. We also love Dani for the LGBTQ+ representation, even if we did have to bury our gays at the end.
Father Paul Hill (Hamish Linklater) - Midnight Mass
Undoubtedly one of the best characters from Midnight Mass is Father Paul, the mysterious priest who comes into the small island town and brings an otherworldly presence with him.
We could view Father Paul as the villain. After all, most of what happens in the miniseries is his fault. But we don’t. He’s ridiculously charismatic, but he’s also so sincere. He really believed he was doing the right thing (or at least the faithful thing) by turning all his parishioners into blood-sucking zombies.
Hamish Linklater is the perfect casting choice for Father Paul, who’s so likable I honestly might have drunk the tainted communion wine, too.
Maddie (Kate Siegel) - Hush
Last but not least, the smartest, most badass “final girl” character in any horror movie.
If you’re a fan of Midnight Mass, The Haunting of Hill House or The Haunting of Bly Manor, you’ll likely enjoy the horror/thriller, Hush. Kate Siegel co-wrote the movie with her husband, Mike Flanagan, which makes sense given how well she was able to get into character.
If you haven’t seen the SXSW film, Siegel plays Maddie, a fiction novelist who lives alone in a big house in the woods with her pet. Except Maddie is deaf, which presents an interesting opportunity for the serial killer who stumbled upon her house.
Maddie is so smart and resourceful from beginning to end, culminating in a fight-to-the-death scene that was so visceral and real I started to forget the whole thing was just acting. AND her pet survives the movie, too.
Many films and shows in Mike Flanagan’s filmography, including The Haunting of Hill House, The Haunting of Bly Manor, Hush, Midnight Mass, Gerald’s Game, and The Midnight Club are available to stream with a Netflix subscription. But if you want to see what Mike Flanagan has in store for Season 2 of The Midnight Club, you’ll just have to stay alive a little while longer.
She/her. Lover of female-led comedies, Saturday Night Live, and THAT scene in Fleabag. Will probably get up halfway through the movie to add more butter to the popcorn.