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'The Midnight Club' director Mike Flanagan opens up about how he wasn't always a horror fan

The man behind Hush and Doctor Sleep was once a scaredy cat like the rest of us.

Mike Flanagan

Wanna hear something crazy? Mike Flanagan — one of the contemporary masters of the horror genre; the man who gave us nightmares fuel such as Oculus, Hush, Doctor Sleep, and The Haunting of Hill House — was once a scaredy cat. Discussing his new Netflix project, The Midnight Club, for Empire Magazine's October 2022 issue, the writer-director admitted that he didn't become a true horror fan until he was a teenager.

"I would fake being sick at sleepovers if they were going to watch a horror movie," he said. "I could only watch scary stuff through my fingers." Those formative experiences ended up serving him well on the YA-oriented Midnight Club, which adapts the 1994 Christopher Pike novel of the same name. Funnily enough, Flanagan hoped to adapt the book in college, but received a cease and desist order from Pike's publisher. "He wrote some pretty advanced stuff for his young readers, and it was not at all uncommon for his teenage characters to die pretty shockingly," Flanagan continued. "His books were full of things I found really exciting and thrilling and dark. So I became a bit of an addict."

The prospect of adolescents facing oblivion is baked right into the core concept of the show, which takes place at a hospice facility for terminally ill young adults who meet up at midnight to regale one another with tales of the macabre. This group also makes a pact: the first one of them to die will provide the others with a sign from the beyond...if there is a beyond, of course. "One of the big things we assumed was that younger viewers could handle scares," Flanagan said.

In what has to be a loving tribute to 1987's Dream Warriors, Heather Langenkamp (known for playing Nancy Thompson in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise) takes on the role of the doctor at the hospice installation. "You never know if her character is a hero or a villain, and Heather plays that really well," Flanagan teased. "Working on a Christopher Piuke show with Heather Langenkamp was like all my teenage dreams coming true on one set!"

Iman Benson, Adia, Igby Rigney, Ruth Codd, Aya Furukawa, Annarah Cymone, William Chris Sumpter, Sauriyan Sapkota, Zach Gilford, Matt Biedel, Samantha Sloyan, Larsen Thompson, William B. Davis, Crystal Balint, and Patricia Drake co-star.

All 10 episodes of The Midnight Club premiere on Netflix Friday, Oct. 7. Flanagan's bone-chilling partnership with Netflix also extends to Gerald's Game, The Haunting of Hill House, The Haunting of Bly ManorMidnight Mass and The Fall of the House of Usher (an upcoming miniseries based on the seminal works of Edgar Allan Poe).

Looking for more horror films that will make your spine tingle and blood curdle? You can currently catch Firestarter and Scott Derrickson's The Black Phone on Peacock. Jordan Peele's NOPE is currently playing on the big screen or available to rent on VOD.

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