Saint Maud (2019)
February 14, 2021 11:30 PM - Subscribe

Follows a pious nurse who becomes dangerously obsessed with saving the soul of her dying patient.

Originally ready for release, as fate would have it, just in time for the pandemic to hose film distribution, A24's Saint Maud is finally available for general viewing, streaming on Epix. Please be advised: This film could be very triggering for those who have experienced issues around self-harm.
posted by kittens for breakfast (9 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I watched this a couple of nights ago and loved it. It's right up there with Black Swan as one of the best psychological horror films I've ever seen. The final few seconds will remain in my head for years to come - and you'll understand why when you see it.
posted by Paul Slade at 9:51 AM on February 15


Thanks for the heads up. I was looking forward to seeing this and then forgot in all the pandemic.
posted by miss-lapin at 10:23 AM on February 15


Great film, deeply gripping the whole way through and shot through with melancholic dread. Mark Kermode’s favourite film of 2020 too (and there’s a man who knows a good scare when he sees one).

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2020/oct/11/saint-maud-review-a-chilling-nurse-on-a-mission-from-god
posted by brilliantmistake at 4:06 PM on February 15


I liked this, though I read a few too many stellar reviews which maybe raised my expectations too high. I found it to be good, but not fantastic. I did appreciate that it treated the religious aspects of the story seriously (something that is usually missing, oddly, from horror movies that are ostensibly about a struggle between God and the devil). And I enjoyed the inherent seaminess and spookiness of the run-down English (Welsh?) seaside town.

I sort of regretted that they left the very last shot in the movie, I would have preferred to have ended it before Maud's veil was lifted, so to speak, and I don't think it's asking too much of the audience to discern what's really happening in that scene.
posted by whir at 7:49 PM on February 17 [1 favorite]


I think the last shot is what makes the movie land -- like I think this movie would be an art house curiosity without the last shot -- but I'm not sure how I feel about what the film is, or possibly isn't, saying. If Maud is totally delusional, which the film implies very strongly, this leads to an interpretation of what we've just watched that borders on the nihilistic. I've seen several references to Taxi Driver as an inspiration for the film, but Taxi Driver, frankly, says meaningful things about the world in a way that this movie...um...if this movie is saying anything deeper than "religious people are fucked up," I don't know what it is. I do think this movie is extremely powerful and unsettling, but I feel like it stopped short of being...more. I don't know what. Just more.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:29 PM on February 17


English (Welsh?) seaside town.
English (Scarborough in North Yorkshire), though for a moment at the start I thought it was Llandudno on the North Wales coast, they are not dissimilar places.

I am fresh from watching this. I thought it was superb.

...if this movie is saying anything deeper than "religious people are fucked up," I don't know what it is

I didn't read it as saying religious people are fucked up, just that this particular person is, seemingly some confluence of PTDS and another condition, which has manifested itself in severe psychosis which is feeding on religious imagery. I found myself wondering - is this what schizophrenia is like, is this what the director is trying to show? Wondering if there was a Joan of Arc connection I found this interview, where the director indeed suggests the film is in some ways attempting to show how Joan of Arc's experience might manifest now (if we accept the notion that Joan of Arc's divine visions were in fact a form of psychosis).
posted by chill at 2:27 PM on February 18


It seems terribly unlikely to me that schizophrenia is like this; the scene where Amanda appears to be possessed, if it isn't a thing that's literally going on (as it doesn't seem to be), just kind of seems like a movie thing where characters have hallucinations that are completely indistinguishable from reality. If Maud were fucked up on that level, I don't think she could even get dressed in the morning, much less maintain a job that requires rigid and rigorous thinking like being an RN. I can accept that things like hearing the voice of God and feeling as though you have angel wings could be schizophrenia, I guess, and that a person could experience passing episodes that mostly don't interfere with normal life (until they do). But this much more melodramatic denouement feels sort of operatic and not like a real life thing to me. That's fine, because this is a movie and not real life. But it's not something I'm even going to try and map onto the experience of IRL schizophrenics.

Joan of Arc seems like an obvious point of reference, if a fuzzy one; Joan of Arc wasn't a busybody who meddled in other people's sex lives, that I recall, and she didn't set herself on fire. Maud's experience seems much more like William Blake's, at least throughout most of the film. And that may be a lot of my problem with the film, because I think that reducing an explicitly Blake-like character to a murderer and a self-immolating lunatic is an unfair and cruel bit of character assassination. Maybe Glass is saying that there isn't a place for a Blake in our modern world, but honestly that seems a bit trite to me, and probably not true.

I dunno. It's a weird movie in that it affected me very strongly but I find myself liking it less the more I think about it. It's a compelling experience for sure.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:59 PM on February 18


I'll also say, a little more prosaically, that movies where characters have elaborate hallucinations that are indistinguishable from reality present a major problem for me, which is that really anything that seems weird or off in the movie could be a hallucination. Did Amanda's party happen the way we think it did? Were Carol and Amanda really lovers? Was there ever really anyone else in the house besides Maud and Amanda at all? Once you accept that Maud is capable of imagining something like Amanda going Regan MacNeil on her, the reality of the entire film is up for grabs. Did Maud really set herself on fire, is Maud just a brain in a jar, etc.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:08 PM on February 18 [2 favorites]


that movies where characters have elaborate hallucinations that are indistinguishable from reality present a major problem for me

I feel the same way, for all the reasons you stated. It seems like this trope of "protagonist has a personal or family history of mental illness, so maybe the movie is full of spooky happenings or maybe it's largely hallucinatory" has become more and more common in the past several years, especially along the more indie side of the horror-movie spectrum. It's not great, both because it undermines the stakes of the story (via "Maud is just a brain in a jar" etc), and because it tends to perpetuate negative stereotypes of mental illness while trying to use a (typically) empathetic portrayal of a person with mental illness as a kind of shield against criticism. But like you said, if the movie is about Maud's mental illness, then what is it... about?
posted by whir at 10:24 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]


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