If God exists then so should The Satan in Rose Glass’ beautiful debut Saint Maud which sees a pious younger nurse who experiences beatific visions grow to be obsessive about saving the soul of her dying affected person Amanda (Jennifer Ehle). Saint Maud is an odd, beautiful, and deeply disturbing chiller which mixes psychological, non secular, and physique horror to type one thing that feels totally authentic. Very positively a style film, that is “elevated” horror that messes along with your perceptions of what’s actual and what isn’t and comes with an ending that’s so concurrently euphoric and horrific it seems like a punch within the coronary heart.
Maud (Morfydd Clark) is a younger personal palliative care nurse taking care of a former famous dancer coping with late-stage most cancers. Maud talks on to God and feels his presence in nearly orgasmic ecstasy and when Amanda tells Maud she will really feel Him too, Maud believes it’s an indication and her mission is to ship Amanda from evil.
In Maud’s eyes not less than – and cinematographer Ben Fordesman’s digital camera could be very a lot Maud’s perspective – Amanda is the proper sinner, proven incessantly smoking, ingesting, having intercourse, and throwing lavish events for her creative mates. In the meantime Maud lives in pious poverty, alone in a run down flat. Hints at previous trauma suggests the newly transformed Maud has demons of her personal she’d be higher off specializing in – it’s a narrative about psychological well being as a lot as religious and corporeal themes.
In the meantime older, extra skilled Amanda has different wants and wishes. As soon as glamorous and celebrated, Amanda is uniquely in contact along with her physique each because the dancer she was and even because it lets her down – whereas Maud actively rejects hers, buttoned up in her nurse’s uniform, revealing slashes of self-harm, and later enacting excruciating rituals of pious torture on herself. Maud’s agony and ecstasy is only religious, her perceived greater function is juxtaposed towards the squalor of her tiny flat. The movie is about towards the flashing lights and light glamour of a seaside city (shot in Scarborough) the place the locals seem to be demons. Fordsman’s camerawork is creative, filled with drunken lurches and pulsing sensuality, and the on a regular basis dinginess of Maud’s existence is used to nice impact, with photographs of tomato soup boiling in a pan wanting like a glimpse into the lakes of hell. If something, it may be a bit over-stylised at occasions, although it serves nicely to replicate the chaos and confusion of Maud’s psychological state.
Ehle is superb however that is very a lot Clark’s film and units her out as one of the attention-grabbing younger actors round, each fragile and fierce because the conflicted Maud, as her God embraces and forsakes her. It’s a difficult function and the entire movie hinges on her efficiency, however Clark is rarely lower than achingly sympathetic even when Saint Maud leans into its style tropes.
Saint Maud isn’t actually like the rest round, although the closest comparisons might be Julia Ducournau’s cannibal film Uncooked – Saint Maud is equally feminine and visceral – or presumably Ari Aster’s Hereditary in that each are nearly oppressively harrowing at factors. However whereas Aster’s movie is managed and theatrical, Saint Maud is extra naturalistic in really feel normally with celestial and infernal visuals peppered all through. Maud’s rare interactions with strange folks within the city – a former co-worker, Amanda’s new nurse – are deliciously jarring. It’s as if exterior the sacred area of Maud’s flat and the darkish den of iniquity of Amanda’s home Maud shouldn’t exist in the true world.
To say this can be a assured debut from Glass, who gained a £500,000 bursary on the energy of the movie, could be an understatement. On this low funds, very British film alone Glass now stands with Aster, Ducourneau, Robert Eggers, Jordan Peele, and Jennifer Kent as one of the thrilling and distinctive voices in horror right now.
Filled with unbelievable moments and indelible photos, there may be a lot to unravel right here it will actually reward a number of viewings. In Saint Maud God, and The Satan, are within the particulars.
Saint Maud opens in US theaters in April, three and in UK cinemas on Could 1
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