How many horror films can you count on that left a lasting impression on you – sort of like a nasty scab that just won’t heal, no matter how much you want it to?

That’s how I feel about Saint Maud, a film I actually saw some time ago but that finally, thankfully, makes its way into UK cinemas for something resembling a ‘proper’ release this week.

And do not take my ‘scab’ analogy for something negative, as writer/director Rose Glass has come up with something truly chilling – a character study that digs right into the very essence of good and evil, complete with closing moments that still make me wince just thinking about it.

This is a female film all the way and, much like Relic and Host earlier this year it not only ticks all the boxes, but shows that horror cinema is in a very, very good place at the moment.

Morfydd Clark plays Maud, a care assistant who moves in with fading ballet dancer Amanda, played by Jennifer Ehle, to provide round-the-clock help.

There’s an opening that suggests something went very (and bloodily) wrong at Maud’s last job, but she certainly seems up for the task – quiet and shy yes, but attentive.

As time ticks by though, Maud’s demeanour begins to change, her new-found religious fervour seeing her adopt the role of potential ‘saviour’, keen to ease Amanda’s passage into the afterlife and banish the demons that Maud believes are beginning to envelop her ward.

But are those demons real? Is the god who speaks to Maud (in Welsh no less) also real? And is Maud really the saviour she thinks she is?

To call Morfydd Clark’s turn a powerhouse performance almost does it a disservice really – at times vulnerable, others forceful, enigmatic, erratic, frightening, but always riveting.

Ehle has less to do as Amanda, but by playing things straight (even sarcastic at times) she provides the perfect foil to Maud’s zealousness.

As for writer/director Glass, well she pulls off the impressive trick of giving us a film that somehow manages to be slow-burn and intense at the same time, a film that serves up the jolts but has so much more to say about life, death, religion and our supposed purpose in life.

Anyone expecting a bag full of popcorn horror will probably find Saint Maud a tough watch, but if you fancy something that will not only give you the creeps, but also leave you with plenty to chew on, then this is essential viewing.

And that ending…

Movie Review: Saint Maud
4.5Overall Score
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About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written three books - on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014), the history of the character Norman Bates (2015) and the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker (2017). He is currently working with director Richard Loncraine to explore all avenues in a bid to orchestrate the re-release of 1978 Mia Farrow chiller Full Circle