Whether you are a ’90s kid or just came to respect the era thanks to the resurgence of its most prominent fashion trends and music, you’ll love “The Midnight Club.” The Netflix show follows a group of eight terminally ill patients at a hospice-care center called Brightcliffe in the ’90s. They tell each other scary stories every night, each promising to send the group a sign from beyond the grave if they die. But along the way, haunting secrets about Brightcliffe are revealed.
The new show, which hit Netflix on Oct. 7, doesn’t waste any time embracing the nostalgia. In the opening scenes, Iman Benson’s character, Ilonka, hits up a college party, where “Insane in the Brain” by Cypress Hill plays over the loudspeakers. Later, when she learns she has terminal cancer, she uses a truly vintage desktop computer with dial-up internet to Yahoo search “surviving thyroid cancer.”
There are more ’90s gems throughout the 10-episode first season of “The Midnight Club.” The period-piece aspect of the show stays true to the original book by mystery-thriller and supernatural-horror writer Christopher Pike, first published in 1994. However, the cast tell POPSUGAR the show does make some welcome changes. “Both my character and Sauriyan [Sapkota]’s character, Natsuki and Amesh, aren’t in the original book . . . We were completely original,” Aya Furukawa says, adding, “There are a lot of substantial differences in the show . . . [but] I think it keeps the original integrity of the book itself . . . [and] just expands a lot more in that world.” Benson agrees, adding, “I think our B-stories are different too. They’re completely reimagined, wild, and creative.”
Sapkota promises fans of the book will still love the series, despite its many changes. “You’ll be very, very happy, because Mike [Flanagan] and Leah [Fong, the creators,] have done such a great job of celebrating [Pike’s] work in this show. The spine of it is ‘The Midnight Club,’ but it’s all of Pike’s work in one show.”
The young cast — most of whom weren’t even born in the ’90s — say they loved experiencing every one of the show’s throwback moments while filming.
“I forget what it’s called, but it’s either the Discman or the Walkman, but the thing you put the CD in,” Annarah Cymone — who plays the fiercely religious but also accepting Sandra — says about her favorite ’90s callback included in “The Midnight Club.” “You’d walk with your headphones. There was one scene where I got to wear that, and I was so excited.”
At one point, the whole “Midnight Club” crew gather by the property’s lake and sing an emotional rendition of “Good Riddance” by Green Day in tribute to a member of the club who dies (you’ll have to watch to find out who). While the delivery of the ’90s classic is somber, Adia — who plays a pathological liar named Cheri — says she was fighting off laughter throughout the entire scene.
“I will say that was hard, because I’ve never played a cello on a beach before,” she says. “The entire time, my cello was just slipping down deeper into the sand, and I was trying to hold it together while still acting sad. I was like, ‘I need to hold it together because everybody else is in it.'” In the end, she successfully kept a straight face. “I actually felt really happy singing with all of [the cast]. It was really heartfelt.”
That’s what “The Midnight Club” is truly focused on at its core: heart. Yes, there are scary stories and throwback moments, but when it comes down to it, it’s a show about eight teenagers helping one another come to terms with their mortality. Igby Rigney, who plays Kevin, says that “despite having these terminal illnesses, these kids are a lot more than their diagnosis. I think that’s a really important thing that the show allows us to remember.”
The show gets so deep into the heart of the matter that you may find yourself wondering if there’s even any actual magic in the halls of Brightcliffe by the end of the season. At some points, it seems like there are indeed ghosts roaming the halls, while at other times, it appears the spooks are all in the residents’ heads.
As for Chris Sumpter, who plays the group’s de facto big brother, Spencer, he can’t be convinced there isn’t anything supernatural going on. “There’s definitely some magical essence that just these kids alone have. We’re all pretty magical,” he tells POPSUGAR. “But also, Brightcliffe itself, it’s so transformative, and it’s got such a deep history . . . I mean, think of all the dead kids that have been there over the years. There’s got to be some magic. Come on!”
“The Midnight Club” is streaming now on Netflix.