Love me some zombie romance, but this has become an interesting question for me after recently watching Midnight Mass on Netflix. The limited series started as a character study. After spending four years in jail for a drunk driving accident that led to a girl’s death, Riley returns to his small fishing community, Crockett Island, on a remote island off the coast of Maine. At the same time, a new priest, Father Paul, arrives.
Described by Netflix as a “…twisty ensemble drama with supernatural thrills and slow-burn scares,” it would seem to defy an easy definition in terms of genre. I love that. I am a huge fan of space cowboys, zombie romances, and small-town horror-romance. The more of a mashup, the better.
The first five episodes were excellent as the audience learns more about the main character, his family, and his history. We are introduced to a host of eccentric characters including the devout Bev Keane (creepy from the get-go). Twisty, scary events coincide with the new arrivals including (spoiler alert) the death of a pet. Is it the new priest, the ex-con attending AA meetings, the over-zealot townsfolk, or something worse? I didn’t know if this was a character study, a small-town mystery, a supernatural thriller, or a horror series. The last two episodes were such a disappointment when my mashup turned to a heavy-handed message about religion entombed in cliché horror elements.
The point of my long-winded review is two-fold. Mashups are hard to do well as seen by many that fail to work. One would think I’d love Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, but I can’t reconcile Jane Austin’s style with zombie death and gore. I like the idea of it but not the text as written. When elements don’t click, mashups turn into a disjointed, underwhelming experience.
Yet, when skillfully created, they’re my favorite entertainment. I’m a fan of Warm Bodies to Rocky Horror Picture Show to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind as well such as Aliens, From Dusk till Dawn, and Blade Runner (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep is pretty amazing too).
Classic texts such as Frankenstein are also hard to place in a single genre. Is it science fiction, horror, gothic fiction, or romance? I Am Legend by Richard Matheson overlapped zombies and vampires in his science fiction work. As someone who can never stick to a single genre when writing, mashups are my favorite.