Warning: This article contains heavy spoilers
Netflix’s latest horror series, ‘The Midnight Club‘ was recently released and has been deemed a worthy entry into Mike Flanagan’s horror content library.
‘The Midnight Club‘, created by Flanagan and Leah Fong, is an adaptation of Christopher Pike’s 1994 novel of the same name. It follows a group of terminally ill teens living in a hospice, who meet every night to share ghost stories. They also make a pact that when one of them dies, they will try to signal the others from the afterlife.
Arguably, the highlights of the show are its extremely layered and loveable characters who are the backbone of this heartfelt narrative. With the plot discussing complex issues like death, trauma, mental health, terminal illness and more, the cast members put their best foot forward when it comes to justifying and handling them sensitively.
Let’s take a deeper dive into these powerhouse performances that have been receiving global acclaim.
The Midnight Club characters explained in detail:
Ilonka (played by Iman Benson)
Ilonka is the first character introduced in the show and can be considered the protagonist. She is an ambitious and studious teenager, eager to go to Harvard soon but is diagnosed with thyroid cancer.
After her treatments fail her and she is declared terminal, Ilonka finds Brightcliffe Hospice online and reads about an old patient who cured herself at the facility.
Desperate to fix herself, she moves into Brightcliffe and digs deep into the place’s history, convinced that there is more than meets the eye about it. She shares a close relationship with her foster dad, who is the only family she’s got.
Ilonka also has occasional visions of travelling into the past and often sees a ghostly apparition of an old woman who claims she is hungry. She also befriends a lady living near Brightcliffe and is the one to prove the existence of the Paragon cult.
Anya (played by Ruth Codd)
Ruth Codd as Anya is the ultimate badass. She is Ilonka’s uptight roommate who is quite loud, obnoxious, hateful and angry about everything.
She is an amputee due to her terminal bone cancer that took her right leg and uses a wheelchair to get around. Anya is also the one who Ilonka secretly follows into her first meeting of the Midnight Club.
As her health deteriorates, Anya starts seeing an evil shadow around her and snaps out of her tough-girl act. She opens up about how her running away from home caused her parents to come looking for her which is when they got into a fatal accident.
She also regrets drifting away from her best friend Rhett due to her addiction problems and finally breaks down in front of Ilonka, stating that she doesn’t want to die. Eventually, Ilonka performs a ritual to save her which doesn’t work.
In her final moments, Anya accepts death and passes away knowing that her friends will always be with her. This is Codd’s first-ever acting job which is surprising considering how brilliant she is in the role.
Kevin (played by Igby Rigney)
Kevin is a good-looking and charming jock with a heart of gold. He is the first one who interacts with and welcomes Ilonka to Brightcliffe. He used to be the perfect student and athlete before a fatal leukaemia diagnosis brought him to the hospice.
His disarming personality allows Ilonka to open up to him and share her discoveries about the property with him. Later on in the series, he also admits to seeing visions of old ghosts. He even has a sleepwalking problem that causes him to wander into the secret room in the building’s basement on most nights.
His mother had a drinking problem and now copes with stress using coffee. Kevin is kind-hearted and always tries to do the right thing, even if it causes him to suffer a little.
He continues dating his girlfriend and goes to her prom just to build upon her illusion that everything is alright. He does eventually break up, comes clean to Ilonka about his true feelings and the two kiss.
Spencer (played by William Chris Sumpter)
Spencer is like a big brother to the group. He is the one who gives Ilonka a tour of the place and introduces her to everyone. His family is extremely conservative, which forced him to leave home after they discover he is gay.
He is diagnosed with AIDS and is very cautious about preventing his blood from coming into contact with anyone else’s. Having grown up as a devoted catholic, Spencer now finds himself hating the idea of god and religion as it ruined his relationship with his loved ones.
After gathering up the courage, he visits his mom one day and opens up about his love for her despite her beliefs. She eventually visits Spencer on family day and embraces him.
Natsuki (played by Aya Furukawa)
A patient with terminal ovarian cancer, Natsuki also suffers from chronic depression due to her condition. She has a lot of suppressed trauma and never opens up to anyone.
She eventually falls for Amesh and builds up the courage to share her suicidal tendencies and past struggles with him. Despite her personal battles, she is respectful and kind towards her fellow residents, and empathises with every last one of them.
Natsuki even manages to convince Sandra, who is a devoted catholic, to participate in a cultist ritual that might save Anya.
Amesh (played by Sauriyan Sapkota)
The video game and sci-fi lover suffering from glioblastoma, Amesh is the newest resident at Brightcliffe after Ilonka. He is the funny one and is often seen joking around about most things.
However, he worries about dying before his deported parents get a chance to immigrate to America from India. He also has a list of things to do before he perishes, which includes playing the new PlayStation console and getting together with a girl.
Both his wishes come true eventually after he starts dating Natsuki, and Cheri pulls some strings to get him the console from Japan.
Sandra (played by Annarah Cymone)
Diagnosed with terminal lymphoma, Sandra is the religious one in the group. Her devotion to god and her constant attempts to make others follow her faith don’t sit well with her peers, especially Spencer.
However, Sandra shows an understanding and loving side of hers as well, which mends her relationship with everyone. She still can be quite ingenuous at times.
Sandra is also the one with the luckiest stars as her diagnosis is proven to be incorrect. She does have an illness, but it is revealed to be non-fatal, and she leaves the hospice for further prognosis.
Cheri (played by Adia)
Cheri is the mystery character in terms of her illness and history. She is sweet and good-natured but always tells different stories about her past.
It is revealed that she has extremely rich and busy parents who chucked her into Brightcliffe right after her disease was diagnosed. She hides behind her changing stories and doesn’t know how to feel loved.
Her pathological lying, however, is not her defining factor. We see her loving side when she orders an expensive wig for Ilonka, contacts her dad in Japan to get Amesh a PlayStation early and even encourages Spencer to open up to his mother.
Her parents never visiting on family day initially hurts her but she eventually decides to mingle with everyone, realising that her real family is her friends.
Shasta (played by Samantha Sloyan)
Shasta aka Julia Jayne initially introduces herself to Ilonka as a naturopathic healer. The two meet when Ilonka wanders into the woods near Brightcliffe. She doesn’t know that she has befriended the very patient whose history she seeks.
The younger Julia’s legend involved her disappearing for a week and miraculously healing soon after. In reality, she escaped and found the original leader of the Paragon cult, Regina Ballard, who taught her the secret ritual.
Julia is a firm believer in the healing properties of the land and encourages Ilonka to explore the cult’s ritual involving the five Greek healing deities. She lives near the hospice to try and gain access to the secret basement again.
Once she reveals her identity to Ilonka, Julia uses the teen’s desperation to heal and manipulates her into letting her into the building. She tries to poison her but Dr. Stanton intervenes. Unfortunately, Julia escapes.
The doctor later reveals that Julia and Sandra were just lucky. The ritual never worked and now, Julia is probably sick again that’s why she has been so desperate to gain access to the hospice.
Dr. Georgina Stanton (played by Heather Langencamp)
The tender and enigmatic owner of Brightcliffe Hospice, Dr. Stanton is the supreme caregiver. She treats all patients like her own children and relates to their pain, having lost her own son to a long-term illness.
She barely has any rules and reiterates the importance of a person having control over the last days of their lives. The kids end up testing her patience when they are found performing the ritual in the basement. This forces her to lock the library, disbanding the Midnight Club.
Despite her anger, she never tries to scare or intimidate anyone. She uses every misstep as a teaching moment and instills the importance of following facts into the kids. Her generous methods are the reason her patients are able to accept their fate.
Dr. Stanton cements herself as a positive character when she saves the Ilonka from being poisoned, but the closing scenes of the show put a stopper to that notion.
She is also revealed to be a member of the Paragon cult and her apartment wall has a newspaper cutting of the original owners of Brightcliffe (an old couple who are the ghosts that Ilonka and Kevin see in their visions).
Mark (played by Zach Gilford)
Mark is one of the nurse practitioners at Brightcliffe and is a handsome gay man who tries to spread positivity among the kids. Spencer is shown to hate him initially but that changes soon enough.
He relates with Spencer in terms of dealing with society and family due to their sexuality. He helps the boy to cope by taking him to meet his friends, who are all members of the LGBTQ+ community.
This excursion helps Spencer realise that his disease and choice of romantic partners is not toxic or aversive. Mark also drives him to his mother’s place when he finally decides to open up to her.