Saint Maud; A24 Brings in the Heat With Another Horror Gem. Grade: B+
A24 was bound to gift another weird and unique horror film with Saint Maud back in April of 2020. However that pain in the ass had it delayed. A24 announced Saint Maud would be included apart of the many new releases, that would be apart of reopening cinemas across the U.S. Everyone was looking forward to going back to the theaters and enjoying a new A24 release together. But unfortunately that pain in the ass strikes again, making many movie goers depressed in the fact theaters and A24 are not coming back in full harmony for a little longer. No announcements on Saint Maud's release in the U.S. continued, as 2020 would not be the year we get to experience Saint Maud.
In January 2021... A24 strikes a deal with Epix, as they would make Saint Maud available for a limited theatrical release at the end of January, as it would end up on Epix in February. I was pumped and happy to finally see Saint Maud in a theater... Until I realize this film was not playing near my location, in fact Saint Maud was barely playing in any theaters... What gives A24?! We've been waiting a full year for this heat?! Why play us like that?! However Saint Maud was indeed playing in a theater in my state... Two and a half hours away from me. I could be a normal human being, save money, and watch this new A24 film at home... HELL NO! A24 films were made to be experience in a theater, reducing them to a television format is not good enough. You damn right I drove my ass two and a half hours to see this film in a theater, the way the film makers intended it to be viewed. A24 better send me a damn care package, I do this for the art of cinema the way it suppose to be viewed, but more so... I do it for A24!
Saint Maud tells a story about a woman named Maud (Morfydd Clark) whom has recently partaken a relationship with God. Maud takes her prayers seriously, as at times she will self harm herself in order for God to answer her prayers. Maud recently gotten a nursing gig to take care of a past great dancer named Amanda (Jennifer Ehle), whom is slowly dying of an illness. As Amanda briefly appreciates Maud for all the care she's done, Maud believes her good doing is saving her soul, as Maud will stop at nothing to save Amanda's soul from evil so she can be well again. Witness a very strange tale that'll spark up discussion towards it's true meaning.
The Cinematography t'was great, visually it looks stunning and at times haunting when it needs to be, as the striking haunting images will stick with you over the course of time. The Score t'was pretty damn good, very fitting composed score towards unsettling sequences. The cast all in all was really good as a whole.
Morfydd Clark playing Maud had a really good performance, very accurate portrayal to one of Maud's unhealthy undermined behavior towards God. I enjoyed Maud as a character, you can tell she's extremely troubled as she has a difficult time comprehending what exactly is her purpose in this world?! Though she recognizes that being a nurse is one of the most honorable roles in civilization, however she still feels there is more for her on this earth regarding purpose. The feeling she gets from Amanda claiming she's her little savior, brings an unexpected spark in her, realizing that she could possibly heal her from her spiritual being itself. It's a very weird character however very fantasizing as well, as far as trying to discover what exactly is her thought process on the whole deal of faith itself. Also thought Jennifer Ehle playing Amanda had a pretty good performance as well, thought the character itself was simply done as you can understand the likes of her, as though she may be a prick... She's just a normal gal, who lost her way due to injury and illness, as her time is coming to a close she simply doesn't quite care nor believe in anything. May not agree to her views however I can understand the likes of her as I don't think she's at all a bad person, she likes to mess around with Maud as Maud took her words out of context.
I have a couple flaws with Saint Maud. Couple elements don't quite add up regarding characters and such. It's also quite difficult to comprehend what exactly is Maud trying to understand, within faith itself?! I honestly don't really get her dilemma at all, as the film can sometimes make it difficult to really see what exactly is Maud's confusion within faith itself. We understand Maud's faith process is a bit odd and unhealthy, however that's not what I'm getting at, I'm getting at just how she feels troubled in how she's proceeding with her life as she feels shame. Like she shames herself at times for no reason, I can see her shaming herself for making a simple mistake, but a couple incidents she really doesn't do anything.
Saint Maud feels influenced by many films. You can see comparison with First Reformed, Carrie, maybe The Last Exorcism as well. Saint Maud adds on to the consistency of the horror genre in A24, as though this is a very weird film, it's also a rather enjoyable one as well.
The story itself is well written, as it makes the audience asks many questions and uncover what is exactly is going on. They'll be discussion on obsession with religion and how some human beings take it the wrong way, leading into a great amount of sin, however you can also say there is a deeper meaning behind relieving those with serious medical conditions. I believe Maud though troubled by her past, feels she's like a saint as she helped some old patients whom were seriously in critical condition helped set their souls free by executing them. It comes and goes within the past flashbacks as you see old patients in breathing tubes, being brutally murdered by Maud as Maud has a blank expression. So while on the course of Maud taking care of Amanda whom is briefly suffering from her illness... Could it be Maud felt much of a connection, as her moral purpose in life is to relieve those whom wish to not live no more due to being in pain?! It would make sense why Maud feels as if she is doing Gods work, by setting their souls free from pain, nobody condones in what she's doing but one can understand Maud's feelings as they wish to not see their loved ones not suffer from their illness.
I really enjoyed the horror aspect of this film, there is some really striking disturbing imagery and even at times when the film isn't creating haunting imagery... It somehow capitalizes on creating a consistent tone, feeling extremely unsettled by the way Maud looks and how she acts. The film does a great job creating tension in a normal scene where Maud is conversing with a friend, as you feel the friend is in danger due to Maud going a bit senile, however nothing happens but the film does a great job in making the audience unsettled and on the edge of their seat in that scene. The finale... Haunting yet very weird especially the last shot. It could be a deeper meaning into mental health or a deeper meaning as those with unhealthy mindset on faith itself, believe that since we are God's creation... We'll never be worthy in the eyes of God so what's the point in it all?! It does kind of remind me of that Midsommar scene, where one is explaining to the visitors why they commit suicide, only it's very different in meaning here. This is an impressive debut from Rose Glass as I hope we see more creations from her moving forward.
Overall, Saint Maud is a pretty damn good film. I highly recommend checking this one out, will be available to stream on Epix and I believe it will be available to rent on VOD as well this Friday, not sure on that option but I do know it'll be available on Epix. Well that two and a half hour drive was definitely worth it, A24 it's time to reward this fan boy for his heroic duties in supporting your brand and supporting the theatrical experience as well. -Mitch Smietana