Title: Saint Maud
MPAA Rating: R
Director: Rose Glass
Starring: Morfydd Clark, Jennifer Ehle, Lily Knight
Runtime: 1 hr 24 mins
What It Is: A young nurse in England (Clark) suffers from PTSD after an event that leads her to reinvent herself as a convert to the Roman Catholic church. Taking on a new job with a famous dancer and choreographer named Amanda Kohl (Ehle), Maud observes the dying woman and decides it is her holy duty to take on the saving of Amanda’s soul before her passing, leading her down a violent and self-destructive path.
What We Think: This film is stunning. While moviegoers and horror lovers of postmodern cinema like to choose Ari Aster over anything else (if familiar with my writings, you know I do have my reservations about the naively-composed Midsommar and its subsequent fanbase over its obvious themes and foreshadowing), Saint Maude holds more than a candle to any of the powerhouse releases A24 followers have fawned over. In a fantastically impressive debut on behalf of new director Rose Glass, this psychological horror evokes old classics such as Rosemary’s Baby and can stand against films of similar subject matter held in much higher regards, such as literally any Gaspar Noe film ever (not to shit on Gaspar–Love and Climax were fantastic, but Maud is the film to improve the commentary that I Stand Alone left behind).
If Under the Skin was about what it means to be human, Saint Maud is what it means to feel human. The film is saturated with pain and isolation of a rare and fascinating caliber that many may not ever experience in their lives and sheds a gruesome and honest light on what it means to understand and take mental health seriously as Maud is crushed under the guilt of her own conscience.
Our Grade: A+, dripping with an atmosphere wrought with loneliness, this film makes you know what it is to be inside of poor Maud’s head. The imagery is subtle to the point of understanding what it feels like to be her, taking advantage of any sensory outlet as much as possible. The sound design is stress-inducing and the scares feel very, very real, for good reason. The performances are elegant, as frightening as they are saddening. Not to necessarily to compare the two films, but I would honestly hope that anyone who considers themselves a more critically-thinking movie lover would understand how important this film is on so many levels as to knock Midsommar off as their favorite A24 to replace it with lovely Saint Maud instead as there is far more to make audiences uncomfortable with that comes unprecedented. I would certainly say this film is at the level of Hereditary, Under the Skin, The VVitch, and Krisha.
(As a footnote, real ones will also understand the Hannibal connection to the film as well.)