Now that the “job hunt” was taken care of, though, Netflix insisted that “Midnight Mass” be scarier. It was a horror show, and to Netlifx, that meant more monsters and jumpscares; it seems religious and existential dread aren’t great selling points. Notably, Netflix wanted to have footage of a monster killing the cats at the beginning. It shouldn’t be a mystery what happened to the cats, they felt. It should be an evil supernatural angel, on camera, killing them. Yes, that would be a wicked, fun image. No, it wouldn’t be appropriate for the pilot of “Midnight Mass.” Flanagan said:
“[T]they put enormous pressure on us to ‘add scares’ to the pilot of ‘Midnight Mass.’ One scene they insisted on doing as additional photography was to help ‘explain what happened to the cats.’ They pitched a scene where we see the “angel” stalking and killing a stray cat. I HATED it. They dug in, though: ‘if we don’t see this, no one will understand what happened to the cats, and this will add a huge scare to the pilot.'”
This time, Flanagan capitulated. He filmed a “stalk and kill” scene with a cat that he hated and felt was out of place. He likened the scene to a low-rent slasher he most certainly didn’t want “Midnight Mass” to resemble:
“I protested and protested and protested but ultimately we lost the battle. So there is this scene in the first episode where we follow a cat, who just walks around, and then there’s a POV shot through the bushes, and then it gets grabbed out of frame. It’s like a feline ‘Friday the 13th’ scene. It remains the stupidest scene I’ve ever filmed.”
Notable: Flanagan recently left Netflix to make shows for Amazon.