December 31, 2021 Saint Maud (Movie Review)
Written and directed by Rose Glass, the critical hit Saint Maud arrived on Blu-ray (plus Digital) and DVD November 30, 2021 via Lionsgate. Blending themes of loss, guilt, and the ramifications of psychological distress expertly, it is one of the most talked about Horror films of the year.
Maud, played enchantingly by Morfydd Clark (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies 2016, Crawl 2019), was formally known as Katie, and was a nurse who lost a patient despite all her best efforts to save them. It is unknown if this is a one time incident, but something breaks inside Katie’s mind, and the next time we see her is years later under the assumed name Maud. She is now privately practicing and working with a terminally ill patient named Amanda (Jennifer Ehle: Zero Dark Thirty 2012, The Wolf Hour 2019).
Maud is eccentric to say the least, and her lack of social grace isolates her from her peers. She lives alone, in a run-down apartment, with no love or companionship. She seems to understand this and wants to fix it on some level, but for the most part operates on autopilot, with a barely interested approach to life that borders dangerously on complete disengagement with reality.
This is because Maud is a convert to Catholicism after her past job as a hospital nurse. There’s an old saying that goes, “there’s no fanatic as devoted as a convert,” and this rings true in the film. She is completely obsessed with Amanda’s soul because Amanda is an atheist and of course will go to hell when she passes away. This genuinely seems to be the only thing Maud has any sort of gusto for life over, and when that ends, so do the last vestiges of her wanting to be in this world.
The film is seen and experienced through Maud’s point of view only. This is by design and is necessary for the story to truly take shape. Like Maud, we are forced into a narrow view or focus, and when she communicates with God we see and hear the things she does. When things go south with Amanda, it leads to a scene where Maud is embarrassed in front of a group of people, the intimacy the audience has developed with her makes it all the more biting. Yes, we the audience can know that Maud is weird, but we aren’t okay with her being exposed and humiliated, forced to see the way others see her instead of how she sees herself. It may hit a little too close for anyone watching; does anyone want to know what everyone else says about them when they aren’t around? This is never fun for anyone, but for someone as vulnerable as Maud it has extreme consequences.
Additionally, the performances are great. Ehle’s Amanda is a very realistic one, who is in fact bitter about having her life cut short and greatly fears the void of death. She is not a coward, however, and does not lie to herself or accept Maud’s advances for spiritual healing to make herself feel better. She is determined to face the fear head on as she lived. Clark as Maud is one of the best lead performances in a Horror film in recent years. Every aspect of her character; her vulnerability, devotion, and self-diluted worldview are played perfectly. We are genuinely sympathetic toward her, despite knowing all we do. Sure, she certainly could use psychological help, but at the same time she’s been through so much that illusions might be the only thing keeping her from breaking completely. Maybe it’s better to let someone like her have that if they are too fragile to face what’s underneath.
Overall, Saint Maud is one of the best Horror films of the year. It’s a slow-burn, Psychological Thriller with a good narrative pace, great story, excellent performances, and some genuinely creepy moments peppered in at just the right times. This is one that will stay with viewers for quite some time after viewing. For these reasons, Cryptic Rock gives Saint Maud 4.5 out of 5 stars.