(director/writer: Rose Glass; cinematographer: Ben Fordesman; editor: Mark Towns; music: Adam Janota Bzowski; cast: Morfydd Clark (Maud), Jennifer Ehle (Amanda), Lily Frazer (Carol), Lily Knight (Joy), Marcus Hutton (Richard), Turlough Convery (Christian), Rosie Sansom (Ester), Carl Prekopp (Homeless Pat), Jonathan Milshaw (Handsome Man), Noa Bodner (Hilary); Runtime: 83; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Oliver Kassman, Andrea Cornwell; A24; 2019-UK)

“An unsettling horror pic built around a character study of an extremely religious nurse.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The titled character is named after the canonized St. Maud, a 10th century, devout German queen. The unhappy and sexually repressed heroine has changed her name to Maud, in reference to the saint, after a terrible incident that’s not revealed. British writer-director Rose Glass comes up with an unsettling horror pic built around a character study of an extremely religious nurse who is tormented by her demanding relationship with God. It’s Glass’s auspicious directing feature debut.

It works well as a slow-burn horror pic that calls out the perils of religious fanaticism.

Maud (Morfydd Clark) is a private-care nurse (working for an agency), in a dreary English seaside town, who is a meek and a pious Catholic (recently converted), with past psychological wounds that still haunt her. She utters such odd statements as “Never waste your pain”. Under her care is the devilish, unrepentant, lesbian hedonist, Amanda (Jennifer Ehle), a former celebrated dancer turned bitter in her last days, who Maud believes was delivered to her by God so she can save her soul. She thinks this because she communicates with God (heard through her voice-overs). She believes that God orders her to save her ice cold patient’s soul.

The narrative works so well because of the strong chemistry between nurse and patient, its many creepy shots and the proper dank ambiance created. It builds slowly to its memorable evil climax, whose final shot leaves a strange and eerie mark on the psychological horror genre.

REVIEWED ON 10/8/2019       GRADE:   A-