Saint Maud

Movie review by
Danny Brogan, Common Sense Media
Saint Maud Movie Poster Image
Superb psychological horror is violent and unsettling.
  • R
  • 2021
  • 84 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 17+
Based on 7 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Themes include a belief of a higher calling and a need to "save" people. However, these traits are used in the wrong way, causing pain and distress. Loneliness, mental health, and religion are prominent throughout, all of which combine with dangerous repercussions. Compassion and empathy is displayed by some, but often misguidedly.

Positive Role Models

Maud believes she is helping people, but she is in fact selfish and manipulative, adamant that her behavior is the only correct course of action. Her faith leads her to behave violently and recklessly. Her religious visions are most likely the result of a serious mental health condition. Amanda is coming to the end of her life and as such behaves in any manner she desires. This can sometimes manifest itself in selfish and mean behavior, but she also displays moments of kindness.

Violence

There are numerous violent and scary scenes, some of which occur as flashbacks, and others seemingly as hallucinations. A dead corpse is seen on a hospital gurney with a character close by covered in blood. Multiple references to death. Someone is dying of a terminal illness. A snide comment results in someone punching someone in the face causing a bloody nose. Character self-harms -- scratches are seen on their stomach. They place the back of their hand on a hot stove causing a severe burn, which they proceed to pick at. They then place multiple pins inside their shoes and proceed to walk on them. During a sexual encounter, a character has a flashback and then a hallucination in which they thrust their hands through someone's chest. During the same encounter, one of them asks the other to stop, but they ignore their request and carry on having sex with them. Character levitates in the air. A struggle between two characters results in someone being flung across the room, an ashtray being smashed over someone, and a pair of scissors being thrust into someone's neck causing much blood and their death. Someone pours flammable liquid over themselves before setting themselves alight. Further unsettling scenes include the voice of "God" and later the "Devil," the recurrence of a cockroach, and the distortion of walls, the sky, and liquid.

Sex

Two characters have a casual sexual relationship, which involves one giving the other money. They are seen kissing on a couch in just their nightdresses. References to sex. Characters have seizures, which though are put down to religious experiences, resemble something sexual. Character masturbates someone in the corner of a pub. Two characters have sex, and despite one of them asking the other to stop, they continue. A character's bare bottom is seen in the shower. Character is often seen in their underwear and t-shirt. Brief reference to menstruation.

Language

Language is intermittent but does include variants of "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," "damn," and one use of "c--t."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

One character smokes cigarettes constantly, despite suffering from a terminal illness. They also drink and, after one occasion, they end up being sick on the floor. As a result of their illness, they are regally shown taking prescribed tablets as well as having injections administered to them. Other characters are also seen smoking. Drinks are drunk at a party and at a pub. One character becomes very drunk after drinking pints of beer and alcoholic shots. They behave erratically, go to a stranger's house and have sex, and later throw up violently.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Saint Maud is an enthralling, but unsettling, British psychological drama with themes of horror, religion, mental illness, and loneliness. There is extreme violence, jump-scares, and scenes of an upsetting nature. Maud (Morfydd Clark) is a socially awkward nurse, who having recently found God, believes it's her calling to save the soul of her patient, Amanda (Jennifer Ehle). The violence and scares are a mixture of real and what Maud perceives to be real. These include flashbacks involving bloody corpses, the voice of God and the Devil, distorted visions, and self-harm. A violent confrontation between two characters results in a pair of scissors being stabbed into someone's neck. A character also douses themselves in flammable liquid before setting themselves on fire. Amanda has a terminal illness, but despite this, she smokes constantly and drinks to excess. Maud is disapproving of Amanda's lifestyle -- which includes casual sex with a woman whom she gives money to -- and gradually tries to put a stop to it. Maud too has her own sexual experiences. During a night out alone, she ends up masturbating a stranger in the corner of a pub, and then goes to anther man's house where she has sex with him. During this encounter, after experiencing a violent hallucination, Maud asks him to stop, but he carries on regardless. Maud also seemingly experiences some kind of sexual gratification when she feels the presence of God inside her. Strong language is intermittent, but does include variants of "f--k," as well as one use of "c--t."

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byJohn A. January 25, 2021

Rated 15 (strong violence, sex, bloody images, self-harm, sexual assault, very strong language).

SEX/NUDITY - There are a couple of scenes featuring strong sex: one involves a woman masturbating a man, with moaning heard, and another scene where a man and a... Continue reading
Adult Written byjimkaplanacts February 23, 2021

This movie is incredible!

I don’t think I’ve liked a movie so much since Hereditary was released in theaters in 2018. This movie truly got under my skin, and scared the living hell out o... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written by_Caleb_ April 3, 2021

Saint Maud!

Saint Maud is very well done, a lot of psychological terror and lots of depressing scenes, some sex scenes and lots (but very very occasionally) extreme violenc...
Teen, 15 years old Written bytylerkell March 9, 2021

An unsettling debut from Rose Glass.

A really great film. As the film progresses, you really get to realize just how tragic this story is. The film includes very graphic violence and profanity. Th... Continue reading

What's the story?

SAINT MAUD follows Maud (Morfydd Clark) -- a reclusive nurse who has recently found God -- as she looks after her dying patient, Amanda (Jennifer Ehle). As Maud becomes increasingly desperate to find purpose in her life, she believes she's found it when God asks her to save Amanda's soul.

Is it any good?

A deeply unsettling, yet superb first feature film from director and writer Rose Glass, this psychological horror is far more than just jump-scares -- though there are plenty of those too. At the heart of Saint Maud is loneliness and how it can manifest. Maud is a deeply lonely character, whose need for redemption and a desire to belong, all contribute to form a dangerous cocktail with devastating consequences. Maud, played by the excellent Clark, is desperate for a sense of purpose, and by doing "God's work" -- in this case saving the soul of Amanda, played by the equally brilliant Ehle -- she has found that purpose. Yet it's not Amanda who needs saving. It's Maud, from herself.

Maud is seemingly suffering from some kind of mental illness. But it's to Glass' credit that she doesn't demonize or stigmatize her central character. Indeed there's even a degree of empathy felt toward Maud, despite her misguided intentions. In one scene, a dressed-up Maud heads to the pub, alone, seemingly intent on striking up any kind of normal human interaction. But her social awkwardness result in a sadness felt both by her and the audience. Saint Maud is an exceptional piece of filmmaking that unsettles, shocks, and raises questions about faith, loneliness, and a need to have a purpose. All within a modest 84 minute runtime.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the violence in Saint Maud. Did the blood and gore seem over the top? Did the violent scenes help tell the story in an effective way? Was it shocking or thrilling? Why? Does exposure to violent media desensitize kids to violence?

  • Did you find the movie scary? If so, in what way? What's the appeal of scary movies?

  • How does the movie portray sex? Is it affectionate? Respectful? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.

  • Discuss the character of Maud. Is she a sympathetic character? Why do you think she acted the way she did? What could have been done to help her?

  • Talk about how religion is portrayed in the movie. Is it a positive or negative portrayal?

Movie details

  • In theaters: January 29, 2021
  • On DVD or streaming: February 12, 2021
  • Cast: Morfydd Clark, Jennifer Ehle, Lily Knight
  • Director: Rose Glass
  • Studio: A24
  • Genre: Horror
  • Run time: 84 minutes
  • MPAA rating: R
  • MPAA explanation: disturbing and violent content, sexual content and language
  • Last updated: January 26, 2021

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