Intensely disturing and superbly acted, the psychological horror of Saint Maud is a stunning debut film from Rose Glass,
“To save a soul, that’s quite something”
I don’t often reach for a horror film myself but the critical buzz around Saint Maud proved irresistible, along with the presence of Morfydd Clark and Jennifer Ehle in the lead roles. And I’m glad I did, even if it proves to be a genuinely disturbing and perturbing filmic experience (and bravo to whoever is designing the artwork, the film’s posters are just stunning).
Clark plays Maud, a private agency nurse who has found herself in Scarborough in the midst of some kind of crisis. She believes that God is talking to her and when she takes on the role of caring for the terminally ill Amanda, a gregarious former dancer played with biting relish by a fantastic Ehle, she believes herself to be called to divine action to save a lost cause.
But though these two women might share something in their loneliness, no real connection can build between the two because of the way in which Maud is decompensating. Adroitly placed flashbacks suggest a troubled recent past and the way in which Maud seeks to commune with God, through some serious mortification, indicates its ongoing nature.
What’s impressive about Glass’ approach is that she leaves open for interpretation what is actually happening. What one might easiily detail a mental health crisis is matched with supernatural elements delivered with real conviction and in Ben Fordesman’s eerie cinematography, a real sense of unease permeates until the final, truly arresting image. Hauntingly good.