Written and directed by #RoseGlass
In her extraordinary debut feature film, Rose Glass examines religious awakening through the eyes of a devout young nurse. #SaintMaud received a Special Commendation when the film played in the Official Competition strand at the London Film Festival, where it shocked audience members and the festival jury alike. It features a star making turn from rising star Morfydd Clark in the lead role and positions Glass as a major player within the genre.
Set in an unnamed, dreary seaside town, Saint Maud follows the socially awkward and shy Maud. She has become a full-time private carer after leaving the NHS, a consequence of a mysterious incident that took place between her and someone in her care. Her new patient is a famous dancer Amanda, played by Jennifer Ehle, who now suffers from a terminal illness. Maud becomes obsessed with the idea that God has sent her to save Amanda’s soul. Is this all Maud’s imagination, or is something darker and more sinister taking hold?
The film feels reminiscent of the #Gothic genre. As a private carer, Maud lives in Amanda’s grand and decadent house. In comparison, Maud’s tiny flat is bare and bleak containing few belongings to her name. This is in perfect contrast to Amanda’s extravagant house, which feels out of place in its seaside surroundings. Maud inhabits the shadowy corners of the room and watches on like a ghost as Amanda entertains guests and partakes in drinking, drugs and sleeping with a younger female escort. Glass succeeds in exploring the ambiguous nature of Maud’s attraction towards Amanda, as her fascination with her begins to verge on repulsion. Maud’s religious awakening and obsession with saving Amanda feels sexually charged, and hints at themes of sexual repression and jealousy. The chemistry between Clark and Ehle in their roles is magnetic on screen and at times it feels like a game of cat and mouse, as they both obey and defy one another.
Saint Maud plays with both real and surreal #horror tropes. The film is shrouded in literal darkness through low lighting and shadowy framing, and Maud’s past becomes a mysterious shadow which looms over her present situation and the film itself. Glass chooses to only hint at the reason why Maud left her previous job through a brief but disturbing flashback which highlights how little the viewer knows about Maud. Throughout, tight framing and close ups of Maud’s face reinforce the claustrophobic, anxiety inducing feel of horror and dread that pervades the film.
Finishing with a startling ending that leaves the viewer with no easy way out, Saint Maud is a masterclass in horror and suspense.