Title – Saint Maud (2019)
Director – Rose Glass (feature debut)
Cast – Morfydd Clark, Jennifer Ehle
Plot – Religiously obsessed nurse Maud (Clark) bounces back from a traumatic experience in her past job too tend and care for famous cancer ridden dancer Amanda (Ehle), a lady of whom she intends to save both physically and spiritually.
“Your savior is coming”
Review by Eddie on 15/04/2021
In a year not exactly jam-packed with high quality genre offerings, independent British horror Saint Maud saw itself become one of 2020’s biggest festival and critical darlings, as Rose Glass’s competent debut exploring faith and mental illness made its mark with an unnerving exploration of the deteriorating mindset of religiously driven nurse Maud.
Played in a star-making fashion by its break-out performer Morfydd Clark, Maud is an Arthur Fleck like lost soul who believes she communes directly with God and has a mission to save lost souls she may come across, perhaps born out of a traumatic experience from her recent past as a nurse.
This “mission” Maud believes she is on remains front and centre throughout her new role as Jennifer Ehle’s dying Amanda’s stay at home hospice nurse, as the two very different woman forge an uneasy friendship that can never end well with Maud’s belief and Amanda’s unbelief.
A quiet horror and one that revels in its almost constant unease rather than out and out scares (of which there aren’t many, but they hit hard when they arrive), genre buffs or more casual horror hounds heading into Saint Maud expecting a stereotypical horror or one filled with gore, frights and twists will be left sorely disappointed with Glass and her leading lady far more concerned with examining Maud’s fragile mindset and internal battles with faith rather than easy genre wins.
The slow pace and lack of scares will no doubt leave some viewers left disappointed by Saint Maud’s hyped existence and there is a case to be made that some of the films more ponderous early sections could’ve ramped up events ever so slightly but in the films latter stages there’s a captivating horror and beauty to where Maud’s journey is taking us and Glass shows her hand as one of the brightest new talents in the industry.
Backed by some captivating work from first time feature D.O.P Ben Fordesman (a scene involving a levitating Maud goes down as one of 2020’s most iconic singular film moments), Saint Maud is a well designed calling card for Glass and her creative team and while much of the film is confined to Amanda’s lonely hilltop house and the small seaside town that lays close by, there’s never a feeling of confinement in this confident film that walks its own walk in a crowded horror marketplace.
Final Say –
More flat out nerve wrecking than downright scary, Saint Maud may not be the film some of its plaudits or promos have made it out to be but this is a memorable calling card for its debut director and the stepping stone for actress Morfydd Clark’s leap to the big time.
3 1/2 comfy pairs of shoes out of 5