Saint Maud walks the razor edge of mental illness and religion as a nurse takes care of a patient that wants to instill the word of God for more reasons than is let on. First-time filmmaker Rose Glass's vision is terrifying and is something to look out for in the future. The 1080p HD video transfer and the DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio track are both wonderful and the two extras are a joy to watch. Recommended!
Mental illness and deep ties in religion walk a fine line in everyday life, where reality can be blurred for individuals who are desperately seeking some sort of divine wisdom or intervention. Such is the case with this fantastic little horror film from A24 called Saint Maud that follows a nurse and the people she cares for. St. Maud was a 10th century German Queen who nursed the sick, but in religious circles is known as the patron saint of misbehaving children. Both elements take their violent turns in Rose Glass's first feature film Saint Maud.
It's clear from the start that Glass wants to tell an intense story about a troubled young nurse who wants to transform into something better due to her PTSD from a patient she tried to save. Through some quick flashbacks and a slow burn of awkward visits and highly suspenseful supernatural sequences, Saint Maud keeps its original story in tack while borrowing some elements from the best horror movies of the '60s and '70s, including The Exorcist. This modern tale is rooted in old school religious beliefs where it's easy to see how someone who is in desperate need of mental help might resort to old testament type results to feel better about themselves.
This is where Kate comes in, played impressively by Morfydd Clark, who is a nurse who failed at saving a patient's life in the hospital. Her PTSD was so nightmarish about this incident, that she changed her name to Maud and has become an extremely devout Catholic. And now if horror movies have taught anyone anything, this is a sign of something wicked coming, as the score and camera angels slowly reveal darkness around every corner. This brings Maud to an older terminally ill patient named Amanda (Jennifer Ehle), who was a well-respected and very successful dancer in her earlier years. The two hit it off almost immediately as Maud cares for Amanda, but also tries to implore the Catholic wisdom and religion into her soul. In a way, Maud believes that if she saves Amanda, it will save herself.
Whatever trauma Maud has might have vanished if Catholicism wins the day, but this movie has other plans in mind, including darkly funny betrayals, and a terrifying back and forth between patient and nurse. The true intentions become clearer in its short 84-minute runtime that causes Maud to blur her own lines of reality with desperation to finally come face to face with a higher power. Rose doesn't allow a straight black and white resolution to any conflict here but puts the reigns solely on her audience to decipher what is real and fake. And to the effect, the film works perfectly in its exquisite violence and scares.
Morfydd Clark and Jennifer Ehle deliver commanding performances of sick people in different natures. Their body language is harrowing at times with the physical elements of possession and turbulent behavior. They are a dynamite duo for sure. And this being Rose Glass's first film, a new horror star is born here who has something new and fresh to say in the genre. Saint Maud is simply fantastic and scary that combine haunted elements of a person's mental state and location.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Saint Maud nurses its way to Blu-ray + Digital from Lionsgate and A24. The one disc is housed inside a hard, blue plastic case with a cardboard sleeve. The artwork features Saint Maud herself being saved in an angelic-like pose. It's creepy, to say the least. There is an insert for a digital code.
Saint Maud comes with a great-looking 1080p HD transfer that has an aspect ratio of 2.39:1 from Lionsgate and A24.
Rose Glass wanted the film to look more vintage and authentic so the glossy shine has been kept out of here. Instead, there is some depth and some nice grain and style filters that keep this movie's colors from really popping. A lot of the film takes place in dark or gloomy rooms with either a greenish or amber tint. When in normal exterior shots. the film's locations look beautiful with primary colors of buildings, landscapes, and wardrobe choices.
Black levels are key here since a lot of the characters appear and disappear into the darkness and luckily, these levels are deep and inky with zero bleeding or crush. Skin tones are mostly natural when outside, but can be filtered to whatever stylistic choice is being made. The detail is sharp and vivid in these lower-lit sequences as well, revealing freckles, individual hairs, makeup effects, wounds, and more. Wider shots give way to even more detail in the fancy locations at Amanda's house and its production design. The lighter CGI effects look decent here as well on their low-budget. There are no major instances of banding, aliasing, or video noise to speak of either.
This release comes with a great-sounding lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio mix that works perfectly in its slow-burn horror element. Sound effects of things going bump in the night, footsteps, medical equipment, and the sound of vomiting are robust and loud, always making it easy to squirm. There is some great directionality with voices and other ambient noises from other rooms. Outdoor shots allow for vehicle noises and people talking. The more supernatural elements are heightened for suspense. The score always adds to the tension in each scene with its mix of synth and classical notes. The dialogue is clean, clear, and easy to follow without issue.
There's a great half-hour behind-the-scenes bonus feature along with a worthwhile commentary track by the director here. Other than that, there's nothing else.
Saint Maud is a fresh take on religious horror that navigates mental illness and religion. First-time director Rose Glass allows her audience to decide what is real and what is not in this compelling and scary film that is a great addition to the horror nurse sub-genre. The 1080p HD transfer and its DTS-HD audio mix are both great and a couple of bonus features are both wonderful and worthwhile. Recommended!