Directed by: #RoseGlass
Written by: Rose Glass
A film like Saint Maud can inspire many buzzwords; atmospheric, haunting, spellbinding, riveting, chilling, a masterpiece. Big flashy pull quotes that can boldly be printed on posters, TV ads, trend on Twitter, catch the eye of the audience and lure them in. It is how the game is played and while these words are all correct in the assessment of Rose Glass’ debut they still wouldn’t do justice to what exactly has been created here. Much like the titular character, this film transcends from the reality around her, we must give faith to the images before us and bask in it, it’s been days since I’ve seen Saint Maud and I can’t stop thinking about it.
Saint Maud follows the story of Maud, a religious palliative care nurse who seeks to save terminally ill Amanda’s soul as she slowly becomes possessed by an entity and begins to question her faith and purpose. Glass’ builds this story around this bleak British seaside setting, you can feel the damp chill in the air, the only brightness coming from the lights of the carnival at night, the beautiful mundanity of it all. The work of cinematographer Ben Fordesman is just astounding and with the paintings of William Blake as a visual motif, the influence of the Romanticism era is beautifully apparent. Saint Maud is a film where every frame feels like a painting, the use of colour, lighting, and composition enhances the emotion and terror Glass’ vision inspires. Everything about the film is at top-form; an intoxicating blend of stellar production design, encompassing sound design, visuals, performance and Adam Janota Bzowski’s score, it all just draws you deeper into this cinematic perfection.
It’s a horror film that doesn’t bombard you, rather than obnoxiously jumping in front of you for the same cheap scream over and over, it insidiously creeps behind you waiting for the perfect moment to strike. Despite it’s nightmarish moments Saint Maud doesn’t even feel like a traditional horror film, its character study first, examining Maud’s faith and identity through this spectrum of her relationship to Amanda. It’s innocence, guilt, regret and salvation all swirling through Morfydd Clark’s unforgettable performance, building to an outstanding crescendo. Whether it’s a scare you can’t see coming or it's slow inescapable dread (a scene involving a pair of shoes, thumbtacks and a picture of Jesus had me wincing and watching the film through my fingers) Saint Maud doesn’t disappoint. There isn’t a wasted moment, it may just be flawless as Glass and her team have expertly crafted a film that will leave audiences captivated from beginning to end. Reminiscent of the horror genre through the lens of Friedkin or Polanski, Rose Glass creates something that feels familiar yet so fresh through doing what every great filmmaker should do; reinvent and redefine.
All I have are words for Saint Maud but I feel I should offer so much more, it’s not the second coming of cinema but instead that beautiful reminder that despite over a century of films, no matter what, there will always be something new to leave you speechless. It must be seen to be believed and in a time where the cinema’s future seems so dire, they may be no better saviour for her than Saint Maud.