Maud (Morfydd Clark) is a reclusive young nurse whose impressionable demeanor causes her to pursue a pious path of Christian devotion after an obscure trauma. Now charged with the hospice care of Amanda (Jennifer Ehle), a retired dancer ravaged by cancer, Maud’s fervent faith quickly inspires an obsessive conviction that she must save her ward’s soul from eternal damnation, whatever the cost.
Back in early 2020, I went to one of my local theatres to see Brahms: The Boy II – a movie that I was very much so, not looking forward to. The first film wasn’t all that great and I had heard disastrous things about the follow-up, and not to mention the trailers were awful. But during the coming attractions for The Boy II, I was greeted with a trailer for an upcoming horror-thriller titled Saint Maud. Upon finishing the trailer, I had wished that I was at the theatre to see that movie instead of The Boy II.
However, just a little over a month and a half later, the COVID-19 pandemic caused movie theatres all around the world to shut down and fast-forward to today, and they still are. So in the meantime, companies have been releasing their films on streaming platforms to great success, and over a year later, we can now feast our eyes on Rose Glass’ Saint Maud, which was everything I had hoped it would be and more.
It’s a dark and harrowing descent into utter madness that got under my skin in every single scene. It’s one of those movies that’s so vicious yet you barely even realize how freaked out you truly are until something snaps you out of it. It’s one of the rare movies that can simply place you in a trance for its entire running time. Although it’s extremely short at just eighty-three minutes, first-time writer/director Rose Glass ensures that your eyes are glued on the screen for the entire chaotic journey. And boy is it hard to watch.
Glass’s direction here reminds me so much of the early skill and talent that audiences saw within Hereditary director Ari Aster. Similar to Aster, Glass finds small and subtle ways to chill her viewers and tell a story that is so deeply disturbing. She wants you to think about this movie long after the credits are done rolling, and I know that I am going to do exactly that.
Saint Maud is a haunting and riveting look into the dangers of loneliness, fear of one’s self, and worship. As you see Maud’s story progress, the more you feel truly sorry for her and worried. But more than that, you eventually begin to feel absolutely terrified of her. The best villains in cinema are the ones that believe that they are the heroes of their own story, and Maud is exactly that type of villain.
Speaking of Maud, Morfydd Clark delivers one of the best performances I have seen in an extremely long time. Her work in this film is nothing short of absolute brilliance. She is able to convey so many emotions with just her facial expressions. Just watching her do something as simple as getting a drink at the local bar gives you the creeps. Something seems so off about Maud and it will linger with you.
And it would be a sin not to mention the euphoric score by Adam Janota Bzowski accompanied by the awe-inspiring cinematography by Ben Fordesman. Together, these two come together to craft one of the most visually and musically amazing movies in at least an entire year. It’s a feast for the eyes and the ears, but most importantly Saint Maud is a feast for the soul. It’s the type of movie that you’ll be thinking about for a very, very long time and that’s exactly what Glass wanted you to do. If Glass continues to make films as incredible as Saint Maud, we have a force to be reckoned with on our hands.
Overall Grade: A+
MPAA Rating: R for disturbing and violent content, sexual content, and language
Directed by: Rose Glass
Distributed by: StudioCanal UK
Release Date: February 12, 2021
Running Time: 83 minutes