Movie #206 2021: Saint Maud (2019)

Wahoo! October is finally here, which means there’s gonna be a ton of horror and spookiness around these parts for a while. Don’t you just love that a time of year can influence the movies you choose? That’s exactly why Halloween and Christmas are my favourite two holidays: having a theme really gives me a focus. Of course, recently I’ve been distracted by my ridiculously tiring, time-consuming day job, so I haven’t been able to see much in the past few weeks. I’ll be honest: that probably won’t change any time soon. But I swear I’m going to try my best.

Saint Maud came to UK cinemas during peak COVID times, so a lot of people never got to see it. Thanks to the folk at Amazon Prime Video, they just added it to their current catalogue, meaning it is reaching a wider audience. See?! Streaming can be a good thing!

The film is based on an idea that writer/director Rose Glass had for a story about a woman who hears God’s voice in her head and falls in love with him. Maud (Morfydd Clark) – a meek young nurse – begins to care for a terminally ill former dancer named Amanda (Jennifer Ehle) and also introduces her to religion. However, when a chance meeting with a former colleague gets in her way, it becomes clear that Maud might not be the quiet, God-fearing woman that she first appears to be.

Well, well, well. Rose Glass is certainly one to watch isn’t she? Some of the close-ups are framed so uniquely here that you’d think she’d been making movies for decades; the fact that this is her debut is phenomenal. Glass utilises her (presumably) small budget to the best of her ability, creating something so stylised and precise, especially for a horror film. 

What I like most about Saint Maud though is that the screenplay is not convoluted at all. Everything about the story and the script is clear and focused, the dialogue is simple yet effective, and it boasts yet another example of a female writer and director who knows exactly what she wants to say without rambling on unnecessarily. Though it’s not always action-forward, there’s a lot to like in terms of filmmaking if you can get through it’s minuscule runtime.  

Watch The First Trailer for A24's New Horror, 'Saint Maud'

In terms of notable performance, Morfydd Clark gives a really creepy, subtly brilliant performance and it’s extremely obvious why she’s been able to immediately step into the upcoming Lord of the Rings TV series. Starring in almost every scene, Clark holds the entire movie together, and I have a sneaking suspicion it might have been the dullest film in the world were it not for her.

Despite all of the wonderful achievements in tone, lighting, themes and score though, I can’t help but feel disappointed somewhat in this. I truly believe that Glass is an excellent filmmaker with a bright future, but Saint Maud seems overhyped somewhat in regards to its story. Though it is succinct and to the point, there’s nothing memorable about the narrative up until the disturbing conclusion.

When Mark Kermode labelled this movie as his favourite of 2020 (the year in which it was released in the UK), I can’t help but feel like that was hyperbole. It’s good… but not great. Regardless, I’m eager to see what Glass comes up with next.

Saint Maud is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video in the UK.

TQR Category Ratings:

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