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Matt Reeves set the tone for Miracles, a supernatural and spiritual procedural series that’s full of the director’s trademark touches.

“What’s the point of faith if it’s never tested?”
“I’m beginning to think that we’re on our own down here…”

Matt Reeves has comfortably made a name for himself as not only one of horror and science fiction’s biggest filmmakers, but he’s gone on to become the guiding force behind the latest iteration of the cinematic Batman universe. Reeves’ directorial career has been allowed to thrive the most in film, but he has a history in television and was even the co-creator of Felicity alongside J.J. Abrams. Reeves has directed episodes of Felicity, Homicide: Life on the Street, and Gideon’s Crossing, but one of his most rewarding TV efforts is his direction for the pilot for Miracles, a short-lived supernatural procedural that under the right circumstances could have become the next successor to The X-Files.

Miracles has continued to slip through the cracks, even in cult circles. However, Miracles and Reeves’ pilot are now celebrating their 20th anniversary, which makes it the perfect time to check back in with Paul Callan and the Sodalitas Quaerito crew from this early gem in Reeves’ career.

Miracles was created by Richard Hatem (The Mothman Diaries) and Michael Petroni, but it was initially on the radar of so many genre fans because Angel’s co-creator, David Greenwalt, left the series to showrun Miracles. The supernatural series follows Paul Callan (Skeet Ulrich of Scream), an investigator of miracles for the Catholic Church, who experiences a life-altering event that sends him down a path of supernatural soul searching. Paul aligns himself with Alva Keel (Angus MacFayden of Saw III and IV) and Evelyn Santos (Marisa Ramirez) of Sodalitas Quaerito, an underground organization that works to prevent an impending cataclysm of darkness. Miracles borrows heavily from the storytelling structure of The X-Files where monster-of-the-week episodes mix with a grander serialized mytharc, which in this case involves warring sects of chosen people who have seen contrasting holy messages in blood: GOD IS NOW HERE and GOD IS NOWHERE.

Unfortunately, Miracles was canceled only six episodes into its 13-episode order, with low ratings largely being the result of the series’ preemption or episodes being outright dropped due to the growing coverage of the in-progress Iraq War. Ironically enough, Canada’s Vision TV–a religious channel–would be the first place to air Miracles in its entirety.

Miracles covers a commendable amount of territory across its 13 episodes, but “The Ferguson Syndrome” pilot functions as a powerful proof of concept as well as a story that fits nicely into Matt Reeves’ grander filmography. Paul investigates a young boy, Tommy Ferguson (Jacob Smith), who can seemingly heal others, albeit at the cost of his own health. It’s significant that Miracles begins with such a small-scale story about sacrifice that focuses on the human element of the spiritual and supernatural. Miracles touches upon ghost stories, stigmata, Bermuda Triangle-esque disappearances, and more, all of which could sustain a pilot and encapsulate Paul’s ultimate journey. “The Ferguson Syndrome” becomes such a promising pilot because Reeves magnifies the emotion between these flawed figures just as much as he embraces the horror of all of this.

Reeves’ work in “The Ferguson Syndrome” establishes the melancholy tone and visual style that carries over through the rest of Miracles’ season. In a procedural series of this nature, the pilot does all of the visual heavy lifting and it’s expected to build a necessary shorthand with the audience that they’ll begin to rely upon week-after-week. Reeves understands how to do this in a way that’s both familiar, yet different, in a strangely ethereal sense. It’s the perfect mix of sensibilities for a procedural that toes these extremes. Reeves wants to draw audiences in and lull them into a comforting sense of familiarity so that they’re ultimately easier to frighten. 

“The Ferguson Syndrome” uses the repetitive nature of procedurals to inform and empower its subversive scares. It’s an added luxury that’s not present in standard police procedurals and it’s a quality that will likely be front and center in Reeves’ upcoming Penguin spin-off series that’s both a procedural and superhero horror story. There are easy parallels to draw between Miracles and William Friedkin’s The Exorcist, but Reeves goes so far as to pay homage to one of the classic horror film’s most frightening elements. Reeves bombards both Paul and the audience with quick demonic jump-scares that invade the character’s dreams. Joseph Williams’ score also feels intentionally reminiscent of The Exorcist and The Omen through its classical strings and ornamentation, albeit not in a way that feels derivative of these spiritual horror films’ music.

The bond between Paul and Tommy Ferguson that’s established in Miracles’ pilot looms over Paul for the rest of the series. Tommy’s whole “I think the darkness is something, too” monologue feels like it’s meant to hit with the same impact as The Sixth Sense’s “I see dead people” speech. It doesn’t quite reach the same heights, but it’s still a very emotional and unnerving scene that’s allowed the room to breathe as these two characters voice their earnest fears over the unknown. Tommy and Paul are decades apart in life, but equally conflicted over the universe’s uncertainties. 

Bullying and its toxic consequences are themes that run through Reeves’ work, arguably most explicitly in Let Me In, but it’s also deep in the DNA of Miracles. Paul Callan was an orphan who came from a painful past and part of his connection to Tommy Ferguson is an effort to protect this innocent child from harm, even if it seems like the universe itself may be bullying him due to his unique healing ability. It’s Reeves’ tender interest in vulnerable children and those who try to protect them that adds an electricity to every scene between Paul and Tommy. It’s easy to see why Tommy appears several more times throughout Miracles’ run, albeit as a ghostly guide for Paul. 

including Matt Reeves’ pilot, are available to be watched online.

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