Perhaps a little light on scares, it will leave some viewers underwhelmed, but in the current dearth of new movies, you could do worse than go see this for Halloween, which is canceled anyway.
British psychological thriller Saint Maud is written and directed by Rose Glass in her debut presentation. It tells the story of carer Maud who finds herself in charge of cancer patient Amanda, a former dancer that was pretty famous in her day, and now wheelchair-bound relying on her carers to attend to her needs. However, Maud seems intent to be Amanda’s spiritual savior, at whatever the cost.
Arriving at the cinema, so you don’t have to, I was expecting a horror with overtones of Hereditary and Midsommar, and this was in part due to the trailer. I guess Studio A24 has had plenty of success with those titles, so it seems practical to market this in a similar fashion.
In a way, this is a similar production. There is a small cast and limited sets, leading to a claustrophobic feeling, and with Maud herself being such an unreliable narrator, it seems we are never really seeing the actual events that unfold. I suppose it almost has comparisons with Joker, with events being seen through Maud’s eyes.
The seaside town that Maud wanders through is a dull and colorless tawdry backdrop, the only colors coming from the cheap amusements arcades on the pier, that also echoes the Gotham streets of Joker.
Amanda seems slightly amused by the stoic reverence of Maud, and despite her initial suspicion, warms to Maud and appears open to her faith. However other factors in Amanda’s life upset Maud, and she starts to obsess more and more about her patient.
As we begin to see glimpses of a tragic past event in Maud’s life, her mental state starts to unravel. Maud seems to see sinister portents in everyday objects and events start to escalate to a terrible climax.
Saint Maud is a slow burn that although beautifully filmed does tend to take its time getting to the crux of the matter. The performances are all on point, but the decision to limit the more sinister aspects of Maud herself leaves the audience slightly confused by the end of the third act. Maud, who talks to, and hears the voice of God, and experiences raptures on a daily basis, seems devoted to her faith, but we don’t really know why, or how her traumatic past has led her to this if indeed it did.
If the idea is to make us question what is real and what is not, then it seems that the question is answered for us in the final scene. Perhaps there is a cut of the film that makes things even vaguer, and we could believe that Amanda is indeed possessed and in need of salvation. This, for me, would perhaps be more interesting.
Saint Maud is an atmospheric chiller that will find success with fans of Hereditary and similar fare. I could be wrong here, but I would also venture that director Rose Glass is a fan of Donnie Darko — let me know if you agree.
Louie Fecou reviews films, tv shows and comics for Ready Steady Cut, HC Movie Reviews and We Have A Hulk. He currently runs his own business in between watching films.