What does a possession look like backward? Don’t be fooled. Saint Maud is not just about religious fanaticism. It has a profound relatable story told through a stylish psychological horror.
Saint Maud has everything that you would expect from an A24 horror – moody visuals, a washed-out color palette, an atmospheric score, an ambiguous story, and heaps of talent. Writer-director Rose Glass uses these as potent ingredients to tell a story about loneliness and isolation through the perspective of a woman named Katie (Morfydd Clark).
Saint Maud is a dark character study about a person who uses religion as a coping mechanism. The plot clues you in about Katie’s life before she converted and what’s fueling her faith.
Surely, life isn’t just random chaos. All of this pain and suffering serves a higher purpose, right? Katie believes that God has a mission that is solely meant for her. She just needs to be patient and do what needs to be done.
The more Katie becomes consumed by religious fervor the more she drifts farther away from reality. She experiences “Godgasms” and waits for “signs”, which she firmly believes is God’s way of communicating to her.
“Never waste your pain,” she says. Later on, she buys hydrogen peroxide and acetone for her “ascension”.
Morfydd Clark is absolutely amazing. Jennifer Ehle delivers a great example of how atheists often mock the religious without trying to understand what is driving their faith.
The movie makes a wise choice of relying on Clark’s performance – special effects are used sparingly – focusing on body horror, practical effects, and cinematography to deliver horror and ambiguity.
Does she get her wings? The plot delivers an answer in the end as Katie accomplishes her last test to become Saint Maud.
Saint Maud teaches us that isolation and lack of a support system can lead to destructive self-perpetuating beliefs. Katie becomes obsessed with cleansing and purifying to the point that pain becomes the point of her journey.
People often find Jesus when they’re dealing with loss, grief, and death. Religion is an emotional blanket. What if you don’t have anyone to help you deal with trauma and religion becomes a vehicle for extreme self-validation?
If there was someone else she could lean on in the hospice or Joy had come earlier, perhaps Katie would’ve been saved. This is the tragedy of Saint Maud.
Saint Maud is a shocking moody psychological horror about the devastating mental effects of loneliness and isolation.