The trailer for Saint Maud has at least one major chest-tightening moment that is sure to haunt you, and if indie studio A24's recent track record with artsy horror movies is any indication, you're sure to see lots of memes about it on film Twitter well into the spring.
After finding success with films like Midsommar and Hereditary, A24 hopes to double down on its reputation for prestige horror in 2020 with director Rose Glass's debut feature.
After premiering in September at the Toronto International Film Festival, Saint Maud has already been greeted with warm reviews and glowing comparisons to genre landmarks like The Exorcist and Carrie.
While today's trailer debut certainly makes us believe the hype is real, it doesn't necessarily answer the question as to what the movie is actually about (which tends to be the case with horror movie previews). So, we did some digging.
The Titular Maud is a Religiously Devoted Palliative Care Nurse
According to reviews, the film opens by hinting that Maud, played by Welsh actress Morfydd Clark, has survived some sort of horrible medical trauma earlier in her life. It's lead her to live in almost complete desolation in a seaside English town where her favored conversation companion is God, whom she has become fervently devoted to after converting to Catholicism. The main thing keeping her from 100% hermit status is her job as a palliative care nurse, in which she's tasked with helping people suffering from terminal conditions in their day-to-day lives.
A New Patient Shakes Her to Her Core
Maud is eventually assigned to Amanda (played by the Tony and BAFTA winning Jennifer Ehle, who also appeared in the Fifty Shades franchise), a former dancer whose life's work has rendered her immobile. A lesbian creative, Amanda doesn't have much patience for conservative religion, and isn't quite pleased with her new caretaker's devotion. One review describes the performance as "channeling Norma Desmond," which certainly isn't a bad thing in our books.
Maud is convinced she can help Amanda find God. Amanda is convinced she can help her nurse chill out a bit. Honestly, the set-up so far sounds like it could be a heartwarming buddy comedy in the vein of The Intouchables, but, alas, it is a horror flick, and things do not go well. Maud thinks Amanda may be possessed. To the audience, however, it may appears that Maud is actually the one who is possessed. Maud tries to save Amanda, but things spiral out of control with gruesome consequences.
So, What is That Scene in the Trailer?
Oh, right, that scene. Amanda puts nails through the liner in her shoes and then steps into the shoes and laces them up. Aren't you glad you asked? Reviews indicate it's a pretty major part of the film!
What are Critics Saying?
So far, they love it.
"A slender but unholy cross between First Reformed and The Exorcist, Rose Glass’ taut and trembling Saint Maud transmutes a young woman’s spiritual crisis into such a refined story of body horror that genre fans might feel like they’re having a religious experience," writes IndieWire.
"It's clear Glass knows exactly what she's doing as she keeps adding thin layers of meaning and texture to the narrative," writes The Hollywood Reporter. "This smart, sinister work represents a very arresting calling card which augurs very well for her future prospects."
"Simultaneously skeptical and inquisitive, Glass’s formidable debut is a film that, so to speak, suspends its own disbelief: It’s not God-fearing, but its unnerving anatomy of a follower does consider whether, why and how God should be someone to fear in the first place," concludes Variety.
Saint Maud is set for release in America on March 27th, 2020, but, again, we have a feeling film Twitter will reminds you when it's time.