Follows a pious nurse who becomes dangerously obsessed with saving the soul of her dying patient.
The relationship between horror and religion is as well defined as any other relationship in cinema, and ‘Saint Maud’ is the latest film to successfully tap into that well in this chilling debut feature from Rose Glass. ‘Saint Maud’ is a psychological horror film about Maud (Morfydd Clark), a young nurse and recent convert to Catholicism, who is caring for a retired dancer who is terminally ill with cancer (Jennifer Ehle). Through her newfound obsession with religion, Maud becomes determined to save her patient’s soul, not stopping to understand if she wants, or needs to be saved.
Every year produces a couple of breakout horror films that generate a lot of buzz and ‘Saint Maud’ is one of 2020’s entries into this category, and for the most part it is well earned. This is a frightening tale about the power and danger of delusions, and the central character is portrayed in a mesmerising turn by Morfydd Clark. I found the film initially slow to get into, but it starts to ramp up around the half way mark (this is a short film – only 85 minutes), and the terrific final twenty minutes leads to a stunning denouement (yep – just wanted to use that word!). To understand Maud in the present, we have to understand why she fully embraced religion, and director Rose Glass’s screenplay gradually teases out details of a past where Maud was a bit wilder and freer before a breakdown hastened her turn to Roman Catholicism. After a relapse, she commits even more to her beliefs and the film starts to blend into a thriller as we wait to see what she’ll do next.
The precise reason the film is so unsettling is it relies on real, believable horror and we can, if not relate, understand Maud’s journey and the ease in which the lines between reality and delusion become blurred in her head. As I mentioned earlier, this is a perfect example of a film that is highly elevated by a terrific final act, and it’s worth sticking with it if you’ve not been grabbed by it fully up to this point as ‘Saint Maud’ is a film you’ll want to see through to the brilliant conclusion.
Directed By: Rose Glass
Starring: Morfydd Clark, Jennifer Ehle, Lily Knight, Lily Frazer, Turlough Convery, Rosie Sansom, Marcus Hutton, Carl Prekopp and Noa Bodner