I've been a movie enthusiast my whole life and been writing movie reviews for over 156 years.
After a year in release limbo because of the pandemic, writer/director Rose Glass’ festival darling Saint Maud finally gets a release, and all I can say is, thank God as it’s one of the best horror movies of 2019 that should have been released in 2020 but is finally released in 2021.
God? God is that you?
I’ve always wondered who it is on the other side that comments right in the middle of these reviews. I always thought it I was just using another part of my brain as a way to say things I couldn’t during a normal 3rd-person review. I never questioned it because it allowed me to answer direct questions from the lone reader of these reviews in a way that doesn’t seem weird.
Good thing. And since religious mania and mental illness are some of the central themes in Saint Maud, it won’t seem like I’m trying to make fun of religious people even though some of them f*cking terrify me, like Marcia Gay Harden’s character in The Mist.
Saint Maud opens with a shot of a young woman with blood oozing out of some of her orifices in front of what looks like an altar filled with religious iconography. The altar is arranged in that way serials killer post newspaper clippings of future victims, all askew and in no way suggests mental illness.
Because of this shot we know that things will end or begin well.
Totally. Would you like to see my coffee table book of altar boys violated by Catholic priests?
Anyway, it looks like our promising young woman Maud (Morfydd Clark- looking like Doctor Sleep’s Rebecca Ferguson) is just starting a new job as a live-in nurse. She’s taking care of the famous performance artist Amanda Kohl (Meryl Streep lookalike Jennifer Ehle), friend of the video artist Knox Harrington.
Amanda has spinal issues and it’s clear it won’t be too long before she’s dead. She needs constant care because there are some things she can no longer do for herself. She’s kind of prickly but it’s understandable because, you know, she’ll be dead soon.
It’s up to Maud to care for her. Yay. Maud knows Amanda has been through more than one nurse (“She’s a bit of a c**t”- I put those ** there so there’s no way you can discern what this character is saying) but she’s got the power of God by her side. WTF could go wrong.
Amanda is quick to notice the crucifix Maud wears. Amanda hasn’t been feeling particularly religious lately since she found out she was going to die. But there’s something special about Maude even if she’s Maud-lin at times.
Amanda is in wonderful hands because Maud is more than competent in the technical aspects of her job. She speaks in a soft whisper as she works, trying hard not to get noticed. But we notice Maud. And some things come across as odd.
Odd Maud talks to God. God seems to answer as Maud sometimes has full body paroxysms. Is Maud convulsing or just really, really, um, happy?
Maud is really into voice-over. There are some studies that suggest talking to yourself is a sign of higher intelligence.
Or it could mean Maud is schizophrenic.
Maud is really into not having an ‘E’ in Maude.
Maud is s**ing visions. Some visions that suggest God has found his way inside her. That sounds creepy but it’s probably not meaning it really is.
We also find out that Maud is not Maud’s real name. And that this is not her first nursing assignment. But we’re not going to worry about it because God is on her side. Or is he?
Amanda and Maud have discussions about religion and Amanda jokingly calls Maud her “Savior”.
Except Maud doesn’t think it’s funny.
What Works With Saint Maud
- Morfydd Clark- Holy s*it. Besides having an awesome name, Morfydd Clark has a chilling debut as our favorite religious nut Maud. You might have seen her in a handful of supporting roles…or not. Your possible unfamiliarity works in her favor as you rarely know what she’s going to do next. She’s at times, vulnerable, sweet, and terrifying and by God you can’t take your eyes off her. As alluded to earlier, she has a striking resemblance to Rose the Hat, but Maud is about ten percent scarier. More Morfydd please. Definitely belongs on the Craziest White Ladies of Horror list.
- The Birthday Party sequence is as unsettling as anything you’ll see all year. There are times when you feel like you should not be watching as it’s so uncomfortable.
- Writer/director Rose Glass’s concise screenplay hints at the best elements of Martin Scorsese’s Silence, the French romantic comedy Martyrs, and even Carrie. Please don’t think I’m spoiling anything, as Glass’ work is wholly and terrifyingly original. A heaven sent debut.
- The final five minutes. W…t…f.
What Doesn’t Work With Saint Maud
- A second act sequence in a bar is the only part of the movie that reeks of cliché and predictability. It’s a little and easily forgivable part of the movie but it is the only part of Saint Maud when you’re not on edge.
Saint Maud is an excellent piece of religious horror that will put the fear of God into you. Unless it’s something else besides God you should be afraid of. One of the best horror movies of 2019 makes it in 2021. Maud will be your savior if you see it.