In UK cinemas now is the must-see horror movie of the year – here’s our spoiler-free look at Saint Maud, from writer/director Rose Glass.

My first reaction? Holy shit. Director Rose Glass’s debut feature – that she also wrote – is simply an astonishing piece of work. No point holding my cards close to my chest on this one: I’ve held off writing the review for some time after watching the movie to see if, as I suspected, it would stick in my head. It very much has.

I’m going to tread very lightly where plot and spoilers are concerned, because in its 83 minutes, this is a movie that packs in a lot. Plus, it comes with a final act which serves as a reminder that some films still manage knockout endings.

The premise follows Maud, played by Morfydd Clark, a young hospice nurse and devoted Christian. When she finds herself caring for Jennifer Ehle’s Amanda, Maud becomes driven by a belief that she can save Amanda’s soul, all the while as Amanda battles her cancer. That’s as much as I want to tell, really. Driven by two stunning performances, the film unsettles you early, and doesn’t let up. At times, it gets very difficult to watch.

Yet what’s particularly impressive about the film is how Glass’s script has us appreciating all is not well, while still fighting for its characters. The quiet, introverted Maud feels like someone on the wrong side of fortune, trying to do good. Yet her convictions become, well, a little deeper. Ehle brings unpredictability and bite to Amanda. There’s much bubbling under the surface.

Glass’s film walks one hell of a tightrope, and it’s inevitable just how uncompromising it sometimes feels that it’s going to leave a few people behind. Billed as a psychological horror, it feels that sells short what’s on offer here, but in ways that would damage the movie to discuss in a review. It’s very much worth leaving time afterwards to dissect it. One tip: whatever your feelings on the film while watching it, don’t leave early.

It’s a confident, bold and utterly memorable movie. For Ehle, it’s the latest in a long line of excellent performances. For Clark, this is a flat-out breakthrough, and deserves to be a career-making role. And Rose Glass? Just give her the BAFTA already. It’s very, very rare to see a directorial debut on this level. An unmissable movie.

[5Stars]

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