Saint Maud : ‘BFI-LFF’ Review – Offers Shivers over Scares
There’s no shortage of possession-based, exorcism horror for the average movie watcher to choose from. From the timelessness of Friedkin’s The Exorcist to the newer entries into this horror sub-genre with the likes of Hereditary and The Conjuring, if it’s parasitic nature of demons you desire then you’re in for a treat. However, a lot of these films follow the intensity and the harrowed meddling of the prince of darkness … what about the dark obsession of the ones trying to save a corrupted soul? Rose Glass’ Saint Maud answers this for us.
This psychotic devotion to God is what builds the atmospheric horror of Saint Maud and it’s amplified greatly by Morfydd’s performance. Maud is such an interesting character because you let your guard down initially, making her more batshit methods of pleasing God a suiting juxtaposition to her softly spoken tone.
The score written by Adam Janota Bzowski is a terrifying addition to the film and haunts the scene far more effectively than any other technical element at play. Some of the darker shots sway the tension scale up to a 10 as you stare into the corners of Maud’s depressing little room whilst others just make you wish you could see what’s going on. Thankfully, this is a rare occurrence.
Also, read our review of The Kind  from BFI London Film Festival
What’s not rare is how often Saint Maud changes what it wants to be. Unfortunately, this has the best aspects of both a First Reformed style flagellation drama about faith induced stress and the creaking corridors of a possession horror, trying hard to balance them side by side when they should exist together. What I mean by this, is that we are asked to accompany Maud on this journey without any thrills to what’s at stake, Saint Maud crafts an atmosphere of presence and chooses to jump at a single opportunity to frighten our fear of the supernatural. Obsession with possession is a creepy concept, but the film needed a better coexistence between the dramatic decline of Maud and her fear of God, Satan, Hell, etc