- Midnight Mass -The Posters On Riley's Wall Include Major Clues For 'Midnight Mass'
Just because there aren't ghosts hiding in every frame of Midnight Mass that doesn't mean series creator Mike Flanagan didn't use the background to drop hints about the show's twists. Case in point: the posters on Riley's bedroom wall.
After being released from prison, Riley finds himself in his childhood bedroom once again. And like the doting mother that she is, Annie has largely left his room untouched since the day he left to start a new life on the mainland. That's why his décor is still firmly stuck in the '90s, right down to the movie and TV posters on his walls.
But those posters are more than just a cheat sheet to Riley's personality (only a skeptic who knows his horror movie tropes would have posters of Agent Dana Scully and Scream on his walls), they're also little Easter eggs hinting that all is not as it seems on Crockett Island. While none of them give away the big vampire reveal, each of the three posters that are prominently featured point toward the show's larger themes about faith and religious zealotry, as well as illustrating that Midnight Mass has a healthy respect for the horror genre as a whole.
Riley Is Like Scully From The X-Files, A True Skeptic
If Midnight Mass has a patron saint it's definitely F.B.I. agent Dana Scully from The X-Files, which only makes the fact that a young Riley obviously had a crush on her all the more satisfying. As fans of The X-Files know, she was the skeptic to Mulder's believer when it came to all things paranormal. But there was one area where their roles were always reversed: religion.
Despite her skepticism about the existence of aliens and all things that go bump in the night, Scully was a devout Catholic whose belief in God carried her through cancer, the decision to give her son up for adoption, and the many personal losses she suffered over the course of the series. For some fans, her steadfast belief in a higher power never made sense, but in truth, it's a trait that made her all the more human.
This same duality exists within the narrative of Midnight Mass. On a hopeless island, most residents hang on to their beliefs like life preservers. In turn, their blind faith prevents them from interrogating the "miracles" performed by Father Paul. But had they just been more like Scully (and Riley), they would never have accepted a seemingly supernatural occurrence at face value.
Bev Thinks She's A Martyr, But She's Just As Evil As The Psychopath In Seven
Okay, Riley's parents clearly don't know what Seven is about, or they wouldn't have let him slap that poster beside his bed. The 1995 movie follows two detectives who are investigating a string of murders inspired by the seven deadly sins as outlined by the Catholic church: pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, and sloth. They soon realized they're dealing with a serial killer whose religious zealotry is so out of hand he sees himself as a martyr.
He believes he was chosen to awaken people to the sinful nature of the world, and in order to fulfill his calling, he commits a series of truly heinous acts, making him blind to his own sins. Basically, he's Bev... or Bev is him: Someone who believes they've been chosen and therefore is above everyone else.
People like Bev are loathsome and dangerous — although unlike the killer in Seven, Bev's faith falters when it comes time for her to die a martyr. When she realizes God isn't going to save her from the sunrise, she panics and despairs, unlike the killer Kevin Spacey plays, who unnervingly welcomes his fate.
Knowing The Horror Movie Rules Can't Save The Characters In Scream Or Midnight Mass
The final poster is a sneaky hat tip to upending horror conventions. Next to his closet, Riley has a barely visible Scream poster on display. Scream is a movie about a group of horror-obsessed teens who die even though they know all of the scary movie rules.
Given his collection of posters, Riley is equally well-versed in horror tropes, which puts him in a unique position to see that Father Paul's angel is actually a vampire. This realization can't save him, but it does allow him to give Erin the information she needs to stop Father Paul and his followers from inadvertently destroying the entire world with their belief that a monster is actually a messenger from God.
Ultimately, Riley's room is a road map for the story to come, and if that doesn't make you want to give Flanagan a round of applause, nothing will.
Images: Eike Schroter/Netflix