5 reasons why Saint Maud is the answer to horror fans’ prayers

 

Saint Maud UK release date: 9 October 2020, Previews 8 October 2020

Saint Maud is a low-budget, homegrown horror film that’s got ‘future cult classic’ in its DNA. Written and directed with focus and flair by feature-length newcomer Rose Glass, this is a divinely claustrophobic and chilling story of desperation and all-consuming religious faith. If you’re a horror fan looking for a dark new Halloween treat, your prayers have just been answered. Let’s break it down…

 


1. Saint Maud’s plot is a chilling exploration of the dark extremes of faith

Meet Maud. Maud is a devoutly religious young woman with a new job as a home-care nurse for a once-famous, now terminally ill dancer called Amanda. In Amanda, Maud sees a sinful, lost soul she can save. In Maud, Amanda sees an uptight plaything she can tease and cajole into enjoying life. Both women are mistaken, leading the pair on a startlingly destructive collision course that will blur the lines between faith, psychosis and possession.  

From this premise, writer/director Rose Glass and her extraordinary cast have woven a fantastically unsettling portrait of psychological horror. It’s a stylish character study set in a dowdy seaside town that feels rooted in familiarly underwhelming reality. And yet, it’s a reality that distorts and shudders as we see through the eyes of the ecstatically religious Maud. 

2. Saint Maud comes from a production company with an amazing track record in arthouse horror

A24 Films has an outstanding track record producing artistically satisfying horror movies that mess with your head. Remember the high-concept weirdness of 2014’s Under the Skin, and Kevin Smith’s body horror marvel, Tusk? You have A24 to thank for all those sleepless nights. 

And then there’s A24’s brace of horror films with Ari Aster: 2018’s utterly terrifying Hereditary, and 2019’s Midsommar, the latter of which, against all odds, managed to make the idea of long summer days and Swedish hippies the stuff of nightmares.    

3. Saint Maud’s writer/director is a talent to watch

Rose Glass: remember her name. Saint Maud may be Glass’s first full-length feature, but it’s assured, smart and relentlessly gripping. Just as in her earlier short films The Silken Strand (2013), The Storm House (2012) and Moths (2010), obsession runs deep, propelling Saint Maud’s main character to ever more extreme behaviour (we swear, you’ll never look at canvas shoes in the same way again). 

And we’re not alone in rating Rose Glass. Den of Geek’s Rosie Fletcher has this to say of the writer/director:

On this low budget, very British movie alone Glass now stands with Aster, Ducourneau, Robert Eggers, Jordan Peele, and Jennifer Kent as one of the most exciting and distinctive voices in horror today.

4. Saint Maud’s cast is phenomenal

With its unflinching focus on Maud and Amanda’s unraveling relationship, Saint Maud wouldn’t be half the film it is without its two exceptional leads. 

You may recognise Morfydd Clark for her memorable supporting roles in Love and Friendship (2016), Patrick Melrose (2018) and The Personal History of David Copperfield (2019). In her first lead role (playing Maud), Clark is terrific – tightly coiled and vulnerable but with the threat of ecstatic anger growing as her religious fervour takes hold. 

Amanda is Maud’s exact opposite – worldy, confident and sardonic in the face of her failing body. Jennifer Ehle (2012’s Zero Dark Thirty, 2019’s Run This Town) nails Amanda’s faded star quality and detached fascination with her quiet, pious carer. That the older woman woefully underestimates Maud’s brittle strength makes the pair’s shifting power dynamic all the more compelling.

5. Saint Maud’s reviews are a revelation

During its festival run last year Saint Maud converted a bunch of critics. Writing in Variety, Guy Lodge had this to say of Rose Glass’s direction:

Glass is sparing with her shocks, but knows how to make them count, like sudden voltage surges in the fritzed, volatile machinery of her narrative, each one leaving the protagonist a little more anxiously damaged than before.” 

While Leslie Felperin wrote in his Hollywood Reporter review:

This smart, sinister work represents a very arresting calling card which augurs very well for [Rose Glass’s] future prospects.

Writing for Sight & Sound, Ela Bittencourt put Saint Maud’s power to unsettle the viewer this way:

When it comes to horror, there is nothing more frightening than the human mind. This motto is brilliantly encapsulated in Rose Glass’s debut feature.

Last but by no means least, Den of Geek’s Rosie Fletcher commented on the film’s stylistic richness, writing:

Packed with incredible moments and indelible images, there is so much to unravel here it would certainly reward multiple viewings. In Saint Maud, God, and The Devil, are in the details.

Are you ready to accept Saint Maud into your life? True believers can book their tickets for this exceptional homegrown horror film now.


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