The 10 Scariest Moments In The Midnight Club Ranked

Warning: This article contains major spoilers for the Netflix series "The Midnight Club."

Mike Flanagan has made a name for himself by adapting horror novels for the big and small screen. From more modern tales like "Gerald's Game" and "Doctor Sleep" to classics like "The Haunting of Hill House" and "The Turn of the Screw," Flanagan has practically perfected the art of transforming the bones of someone else's story into his own brand of sentimental horror. His newest series, "The Midnight Club," is an adaptation of several novels including the titular tearjerker from the master of YA horror, Christopher Pike.

Set in a hospice for terminal teens, the story follows five patients who form what they call The Midnight Club and meet in the hospice's library at the witching hour to pass their final days on earth sharing ghost stories with each other. Flanagan's version follows this general format but stretches the story with additional characters and new plotlines. Rather than stories from the original novel, Flanagan's characters, Ilonka, Kevin, Anya, Sandra, Spence, Natsuki, Cheri, and Amesh tell stories adapted from other Pike novels such as "Road to Nowhere," "Gimme a Kiss," "The Wicked Heart," and "Witch." 

True to form, Flanagan tugs at our heartstrings, attempting to make us cry as much as he's trying to make us scream. While this series itself contains a heavy helping of sorrow, there are also some genuinely unsettling moments that help us stay grounded amidst the misery of watching every main character die. To stave off the tears, let's rank the top 10 frightening moments from least to most scary.

10. Spence hears a voice

One of the conditions of joining The Midnight Club is agreeing to a pact that whoever dies first will contact the others from beyond the grave to pass on news of the afterlife. Spence (William Chris Sumpter) believes he might be the recipient of just such a message when he finds himself alone in the medical wing. While walking past the recently vacated recovery room, Spence hears static coming through the intercom followed by a whispered voice. The doors are uncharacteristically locked and the lights are all extinguished. He pushes the intercom button and ventures a tentative "hello" which is then answered by a ghostly voice calling his name. 

Spence dashes down the hall to tell Mark (Zach Gilford), the nurse practitioner and nearest adult. Mark arrives moments later to find the door open and the room empty. Flanagan makes good use of the Brightcliffe Manor's gorgeous surroundings. The building is awash in subtle blues and neutrals, so comfortable that it's easy to forget we're steps away from the morgue. Like Spence, we are caught off guard by the disembodied voice. 

The fact that the room's last occupant passed away in bed just days before adds an ominous touch to the unsettling scene. We are in the bowels of the building and there's no telling what spirits may be lurking in the empty rooms. This scene is perhaps more eerie than frightening (and the least scary of these moments), but it's an early scare that perfectly sets the tone for a series featuring the ever-present shadow of death.

9. The ghostly walker

One of the final stories of the series is a bit of a mixed bag. Adapted from Christopher Pike's "Road to Nowhere," Natsuki (Aya Furukawa) tells a story about a teenage girl named Theresa (Furukawa) on a late-night drive down a misty road. She picks up two hitchhikers named Freedom Jack (Henry Thomas) and Poppy Corn (Alex Essoe) — yes really — and slowly begins to fear that the two rockers may have sinister intentions. 

While this story swings wildly from poignant to eerie to ridiculous (which keeps the sequence on the lower end of the list), it does contain some genuinely chilling moments. Three times Theresa passes the same solitary girl walking on the shoulder of the road. Wearing a gray hood, we can only see the face of this walker in the rearview mirror. Upon the first pass, we see downturned, human features. On the second pass, the walker looks up to reveal opaque and ghostly eyes. The third time we pass, the face we see under the gray hood is old and decayed, bearing the unmistakable marks of death.

This story concludes with a devastating revelation. At a gas station, Theresa opens the garage to find her own car running in a cloud of carbon monoxide. Her dying body, wearing a familiar gray hood, is passed out behind the wheel. Rather than past their prime hitchhikers, Freedom Jack and Poppy Corn are dueling aspects of her own will to live. Theresa has been the ghostly walker all along and her dying face will soon be a reality if she can't find the will to fight for her life.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

8. The old woman in the shadows

There are many spooky beings roaming the hallways of Brightcliffe Manor, but none so startling as the elderly woman who haunts Ilonka (Iman Benson). The newest resident first sees this ghostly woman before even setting foot on the property. When investigating the hospice, Ilonka sees the specter in a series of visions that may be a prophecy of the time she will spend there. 

While taking a tour of the old building, Ilonka turns a corner and sees the old woman staring at her from the shadows, a snippet of old-fashioned music ringing through the air. No one else can see her and Ilonka faints in response to her fright. Throughout her stay, Ilonka occasionally finds herself transported back in time to the early days of the house's occupancy. While usually alone, the old woman is sometimes accompanied by the ghost of a similarly dressed elderly man.

This mysterious woman continues to haunt the halls of the manor, often showing up when Ilonka feels most vulnerable. She awakens one night to find the woman standing over the bed of her sleeping roommate, Anya (Ruth Codd), and screams in fright when the man glares at her through the bathroom mirror. They are Brightcliffe's original owners, reluctant to leave their one-time home even in death. What makes this duo most frightening is that we never find out what they want or why they're stalking Ilonka. Restless in the afterlife, perhaps they are simply a lingering reminder of the death that pervades the hospice. Scary, certainly, but still not the biggest frightmares to come.

7. Dusty the hammer killer

As we make our way up the list, one of the most horrific of The Midnight Club stories is an adaptation of Christopher Pike's "The Wicked Heart." Told by Kevin (Igby Rigney), this story stars Dusty (Rigney), a perfectly normal teenage boy hiding a dark secret. By day, he's trying to get closer to his new girlfriend Sheila (Iman Benson), but by night he's compelled to commit brutal murders with a clawfoot hammer. 

Though Dusty has been killing for a while, the first murder we see him commit is extremely upsetting. After finding out that Sheila's friend Nancy will be alone in her house for the weekend, he decides to make her his next victim. Late that night, Dusty creeps into the darkened house through a window. Clutching his hammer, he silently enters her bedroom and stands over her sleeping body. Just as Nancy awakens, Dusty covers her face with a towel and delivers three brutal blows to her forehead. The crunching sounds and the blood that seeps up through the fabric tell us he now has another body to put in his secret garden graveyard.

All of the stories we've seen so far have been supernatural in nature. Nancy's death marks the first time we've seen an actual murder. The shocking act is upsetting in its powerful violence, but also because it involves the death of a teenage girl. Even worse, Nancy joins the rest of Dusty's victims, a crowd of young women with large wounds on their foreheads and silent screams frozen on their lips.

6. Death stalks Anya

Brightcliffe Manor's ghostly first owner is not the only entity stalking the building's halls. Ilonka's roommate Anya also finds herself haunted by a menacing specter of her own. Appearing as a dark cloud or an inky black liquid, this shapeshifting being is a humanoid form that drifts and morphs through the shadows surrounding Anya. She first encounters the spirit in a dream, watching it slowly pour across the empty library table before finally taking the shape of a person. The nebulous form swallows the camera's lens before Anya wakes up, startled by the vision. 

Later that night, she sees the black cloud slink into her bathroom before solidifying into human form and opening a pair of sinister red eyes. This vision is followed by a scene in which Anya throws up in the same bathroom, a bad reaction to her illness and medication. It's as if the mysterious being is predicting the disintegration of her body and the pitiful figure she will soon become. Perhaps this is where the real terror of the specter truly lies.

The being's most tangible appearance occurs shortly before Anya's death. While sequestered in the recovery room, Anya notices black liquid dripping onto her pillow from the ceiling above. She looks up to see the shape of a baby covered in inky goo. The form rapidly shifts through the different stages of life until it is nothing more than a shadowy skeleton reaching downwards toward Anya with its bony fingers.

5. Anya's final story

As if the ever-looming specter of death wasn't enough, Anya experiences one of the most terrifying and heartbreaking revelations of the series. After blacking out during a healing ritual in her honor, Anya finds herself dozing off at a boring cashier's job. With longer hair and a prosthetic leg, she walks past a ballet studio to a solitary apartment in which she eats frozen dinners and wakes to a phantom alarm each time the clock strikes midnight. A group therapy session lets us know this is not just another of the Club's stories, but a vision of the future. Anya has experienced spontaneous regression; she is recovering and has left Brightcliffe Manor.

In a group session, Anya remembers the friends she left behind and rages about the fact that they are all now dead. The healing ritual has worked, but only for her. What seems like a bittersweet ending quickly turns to terror as characters from the Club's stories begin to merge into Anya's life. She relives the scariest moments of each tale before collapsing into bed and seeing the inky black specter of death in her ceiling. Ilonka is then awakened by an intercom buzz followed by the toast of The Midnight Club. Her friends are huddled in the hallway reading her an inspirational story about spontaneous regression. 

Rather than healing in her own future apartment, Anya has actually been quarantined in the recovery room, the last stop before the morgue. It's both a touching reminder of the bond the friends have formed and a heartbreaking harbinger of the death they're all about to face.

4. The screamer

The first story we see told at a meeting of The Midnight Club is a doozy. Natsuki's tale follows Ren (William Chris Sumpter), a teenage boy walking home from a concert through a deserted neighborhood in the misty dark. He hears a familiar, but haunting melody on the breeze, one he seems to know by heart. Ren notices a face watching him from the window of a house lining the street, then another, then another. He suddenly sees that every one of the street's houses has a lone figure silently watching him from the window. 

A girl in one of the houses asks if he's lost before slowly scratching the window pane. Before he can answer, Ren hears the same question whispered just behind him. With the girl now gone from the window, he turns around to find her screaming inches away from his face. While the cheapest of jump scares, this scene immediately cuts back to The Midnight Club where Spence admonishes Natsuki for lazy storytelling. Natsuki begins to explain that a startle response can cause the body to release endorphins, then once again screams mid-sentence, knocking the delicate Sandra (Annarah Cymone) out of her chair. 

Back to the story, Ren walks through the night when girl after girl screams in his face from all directions. A black cat crossing his path is the last straw for Spence and the ridiculous story. What begins as a genuinely frightening moment soon devolves into what Amesh (Sauriyan Sapkota) describes as "a pile of bulls*** jumpscares." While egregious in a film, the story is charmingly self-aware and leads to an endearing conversation where the kids alternately try to make each other scream and admonish each other for "cheating," one of the more memorable scary story segments of the series. 

3. The final ritual

Ilonka arrives at Brightcliffe determined to find a cure for her cancer. She's read about a former patient named Julia Jayne (Larsen Thompson, Samantha Sloyan) who disappeared from the facilities for a week and returned in remission. Ilonka believes the same will happen to her and the mysterious naturopath she meets in the nearby woods agrees with her. She tells Ilonka about the healing power of Brightcliffe's land and shares a ritual involving five ancient goddesses that will reportedly spark healing in the subject. This coincides with visions Ilonka has had in the manor as well. Dark figures in red hooded cloaks wander the halls late at night, disappearing just before Ilonka can make out their faces.

Desperate not to die, Ilonka decides to repeat the ritual in the Manor's dusty sub-basement. With the revelation that her new friend is in fact Julia Jayne, Ilonka becomes even more determined to find the magical cure. Once the ritual has begun, Julia offers her a cup of what she claims is a tea that will activate the magic. Just then, Dr. Stanton (Heather Langenkamp) bursts in and warns her not to drink it. While Ilonka hesitates, the other women begin to vomit and convulse, suffering from the poison they've just ingested. Julia begs Ilonka to drink then attacks her, trying to force the tea down her throat. 

While the entire scene is horrifying, and Iman Benson really sells the terror, Julia's evil smile as she ascends in the old-fashioned elevator sends chills up and down your spine. Ilonka believed her to be a friendly voice for healing and empowerment, but all along, Julia has been planning to sacrifice Ilonka for her own agenda.

2. Dana's hands

The third story told in "The Midnight Club" is one of the few actually featured in the original novel. In "The Two Danas," Anya describes a diligent girl named Dana (Ruth Codd) who longs for a life of freedom and fun. She makes a deal with the devil to duplicate herself so that one Dana can experience the adventures she craves while the other stays safely home to finish her studies. Unfortunately, Dana 2 gets a little too adventurous and falls into addiction and misery. 

In trying to bring her back home, Dana 1 takes drastic measures to get her counterpart's attention. With a large carving knife, she slashes her forearm before stabbing and slicing through the skin on her leg. When this doesn't work, she stabs the knife all the way through the palm of her hand. Not to be outdone, Dana 2 takes matters into her own hand and burns her palm with a lighter. The two finally meet in a bloody battle that leaves one Dana dead and the other missing a leg.

This scene is a brutal depiction of self-harm and is incredibly hard to watch. It's also another example of Mike Flanagan's tendency to include hand mutilations in his work. After gruesome hand injuries in "Doctor Sleep" and "Hush" (and perhaps the most severe example of hand violence ever committed to film, the degloving scene in "Gerald's Game"), we now have another example of hand horror to add to the director's ever growing list.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

1. Dusty's mother enters the room

Dusty, the perfect high school senior by day and hammer killer by night, lives alone with his ailing mother. Though once a semi-happy family, she's suffering from the effects of a recent stroke and now does little more than sit and stare. She rarely talks anymore, but Dusty knows she's always listening. 

As Kevin tells the final chapters of his story, we learn that his murderous urges come from the spirit of his evil grandfather who possesses his body and causes him to kill. His mother was also possessed by this spirit and racked up her own group of victims. Once the stroke kept her from killing, she began pouring the murderous spirit into her son. Now, after each kill, Dusty tells her what he's done and begs her to make the voices stop.

With Sheila closing in on his secret, Dusty invites his girlfriend over to his house and prepares to make her his next victim. Preparing to strike her with the hammer, the teen killer freezes inches from her head, finally finding the will to overcome his grandfather's spirit. But as he struggles with the demonic force possessing him, a terrifying creature creeps through the open doorway behind him. With a sinister smile, his mother slowly crawls across the ceiling and through the door frame towards her murderous son. It's a moment of pure terror, the one that might haunt you long after you've finished streaming, as the grinning old woman creeps toward him, desperate to continue the spree of hammer murders.