Sometimes, there just seems to be something in the air in Hollywood, and two very similar projects get released at the same time. Think A Bug’s Life and Antz both coming out in 1998, or No Strings Attached and Friends With Benefits hitting theaters at the same time in 2011. Well, uncanny coincidence has struck again in 2021, and this time it’s scarier than ever. Just as FX concluded the first half of its two-part American Horror Story: Double Feature season, Netflix dropped a series that felt very familiar. While there are some key differences between the shows, these Midnight Mass and AHS: Double Feature comparisons just cannot be ignored.
After several delays, American Horror Story was finally able to kick off its tenth season on Aug. 25. For the first time in the anthology series’ history, the season is split in half, with the first part of Double Feature telling a story called “Red Tide” and the second half switching to a story dubbed “Death Valley.” Eerily enough, Netflix’s unrelated horror miniseries Midnight Mass premiered just two days after AHS’ “Red Tide” story concluded, and they both featured vampiric creatures terrorizing a small beach town.
Though the overall tone and major themes of the two shows are pretty distinct from one another, it’s hard to overlook the monstrous similarities.
Midnight Mass and AHS: Double Feature Similarities
1. The Beach Setting
Hitting the beach seems to be a trend in horror this year — Hulu’s The Resort brought terror to Hawaii and M. Night Shyamalan’s twisty Old became a viral sensation — and both Midnight Mass and AHS: Double Feature are prime examples. Both series are set in small, coastal towns, constantly featuring the beach as an important location. In Midnight Mass, the secluded Crockett Island is prime for a haunting, and in AHS, the dismal winter months in Provincetown, Massachusetts are a far-cry from the lively summers.
2. The Tight-Knit Community
It’s not only the fact that both shows are set in beach towns that connects them so much; it’s that the coastal communities featured are both very small and tight-knit. Everyone knows everyone’s business in the Crock Pot, much like how all of the year-round Provincetown residents know all the secrets hidden in their community.
3. The Vampires
Neither show actually uses the term vampire, but it’s not a stretch at all to apply that word to the “angel” in Midnight Mass and the Pales in AHS. The two monsters bear a striking resemblance to one another, and on top of that, they share the same vampiric attributes. They have an insatiable thirst for blood and only come out at night. Both shows center on a vampire outbreak continuing to grow as more people choose to make the transformation, either by taking a black pill or drinking an “angel’s” blood in Unholy Communion.
4. Aging In Reverse
A big draw of becoming a vampire in both shows is a similar reverse-aging process. This is more explicitly shown in Midnight Mass, as the elderly Monsignor Pruitt reverts to a much younger version of himself once transformed, and close-to-death Mildred Gunning rapidly de-ages after partaking in communion. And renewed vitality is also shown in AHS, as the once meek Belle Noir embraces a new lease on life.
5. Pregnancy Horror
A pregnant woman plays a central part of both shows, although their stories are pretty different. Midnight Mass’ Erin tragically loses her unborn baby due to the effects of the angel’s blood, but AHS’ Doris does manage to give birth to her son... only to have it stolen away from her after she becomes a Pale.
Midnight Mass and AHS: Double Feature Differences
1. Religion Vs. Talent
The major difference between Midnight Mass and the “Red Tide” portion of AHS: Double Feature is the major institution they were focused on. Midnight Mass is clearly concerned with the dark side of organized religion, specifically Catholicism, whereas “Red Tide” was all about skewering the pitfalls of fame and artistic talent. While both use vampirism as a metaphor for their central concepts, they weren’t really saying the same things in the end. Midnight Mass leaned into the vampiric language of the Bible and played with fanaticism, while the vampires in AHS were nothing more than untalented artists unable to ever achieve their dreams of fame.
2. Home Vs. Getaway
The secluded beach settings of both shows are incredibly similar, but they actually do serve different functions. Crockett Island is a strong, family-oriented community, which rarely ever gets outside visitors. Provincetown, on the other hand, stays afloat thanks to annual tourism, and most of its inhabitants are only there for a few months either to party in the summer or work on their art in the winter. As such, Midnight Mass explores how a supernatural interloper can disrupt a seemingly stable, self-sufficient community, but AHS doubles down on transience as a major element of its setting and plot.
3. The Process of Becoming a Vampire
While it does seem to ultimately be an individual’s choice whether they want to become a vampire or not in both shows, the process is decidedly different. In AHS, it’s as easy as taking a black pill, and then you’ll either transform into one of the monstrous Pales or become revitalized (but still need to feed off blood) depending on your level of talent. Midnight Mass is a little less cut-and-dry in terms of process. The people of Crockett Island slowly transform as Father Paul puts angel blood into the communion wine, but it seems they can only fully transform by drinking the blood as they die.
4. The Effects of Sunlight
The rules of being a vampire are also a bit different in both shows. Of course, both creatures suck blood, but only the Midnight Mass vampires burn in the sunlight. Although the AHS Pales seem to prefer to only come out at night, there are a few scenes of them out and about in daytime without any negative repercussions.
5. Standalone Vs. Connected Story
Structure is also a major difference between the two stories. As all AHS fans know, the anthology series loves to connect all its seasons together with little easter eggs and references, and although none were apparent in “Red Tide,” the story is inherently connected to another one: Double Feature’s second half, “Death Valley.” But Midnight Mass is its own self-contained miniseries, fully wrapping up its chilling tale in seven episodes. Yes, there’s some hopeful chatter about the potential for a Season 2 or seeing it turn into an anthology series, but the show’s ending felt like a very clear finish to the story, which is not the same with “Red Tide.”