Let’s get the Saint Maud ending explained as the 2020 horror movie finally reaches UK cinemas. It’s destined to be discussed for years to come.
While the 2010s was a great year for film fans, it was particularly impressive for horror lovers.
Directors like Ari Aster (Hereditary, Midsommar), Jordan Peele (Us, Get Out) and Robert Eggers (The VVitch, The Lighthouse) established themselves as household names of the genre.
Additionally, efforts like The Babadook, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night and A Quiet Place have become fond favourites of many.
Despite the immense pressure on the film industry as it responds to complications resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, audiences are hoping for yet another notable decade of horror cinema.
Things are off to a good start under the circumstances and Saint Maud has been released to critical acclaim.
Serving as the directorial feature debut of Rose Glass, the film stars Morfydd Clark in the titular role of a private nurse with a tragic past. She is tasked with caring for Amanda (Jennifer Ehle), a former dancer whom Maud gradually begins to feel she must save.
Now, let’s talk about that ending.
Saint Maud ending explained
This is very much a film which invites and nurtures an array of interpretations.
Nevertheless, here’s our take!
Maud has turned to Roman Catholicism in the wake of a horrific incident which took place when she worked at a hospital; it resulted in the death of a patient.
The character’s loneliness is emphasised throughout the film and is a central theme.
In the film’s exposition, it’s established that she may have essentially turned to religion in hopes of discovering her higher purpose. Plagued by her past, she is greatly concerned with atonement.
When she begins to care for Amanda she begins to believe that saving and converting her before she dies is her calling. However, she is fired after striking Amanda for making blasphemous comments.
Lost and without purpose once again, Maud desperately attempts to integrate herself into society but through her efforts, she feels more alienated than ever.
After she tries to reach out to an old work colleague who earlier offered her number, we get the sense that Maud believes she is totally alone without her devotion to God.
By the time her former colleague does check in, it’s too late. Maud has reverted back to her obsession with fulfilling a higher purpose under God’s guidance.
In a pivotal scene, Maud’s interaction with God (heard off-screen) suggests that Maud’s descent into madness has resulted in her surrendering to her sole mission entirely… at any cost.
She returns to Amanda’s home equipped with saint-like attire and holy water but Amanda is totally dismissive of the existence of God, telling Maud that he does not exist, that dying is dull and that Maud is the loneliest girl she’s ever seen.
Conflicted and distressed, Amanda then contorts into a demonic entity which accuses Maud of having weak faith. Frightened, Maud stabs and kills Amanda before fleeing.
One reading of this sequence is that Maud is attempting to rationalise Amanda’s rejection of God the only way she can, which is by imagining the woman before her as a demon sent to test her devotion to God.
Arguably, Amanda’s words also point out the covert selfishness of Maud’s actions and throw her entire faith into question, forcing her to prove her faith even more.
For Maud, everything has come crashing down and she proceeds to sacrifice herself to God, believing – or forcing herself to believe, rather – that she is an angel, a saint.
She lights herself on fire in front of a crowd above a swirling in the sky, which has been a recurring detail throughout. We then see two realities.
Firstly, it’s Maud – wings and all – having achieved her purpose, recognised as a higher power. Secondly, there is a woman being engulfed in flames, writhing in agony.
Saint Maud ending explained: Morfydd Clark weighs in
What you bring to Saint Maud will influence your reading and this is something which Morfydd Clark touched upon in an interview with Film Ink:
“I do love the idea that different people watching this will pick up on loads of different things depending on what their connection is with religion… Even if it’s not religion, I was interested in the more universal urge to feel beholden to a bigger force, and to submit yourself to an ideology that has rules and gives you guidelines of how you should and shouldn’t behave, and how the law works.”
Saint Maud explores wider themes of loneliness and desperation, so it’s perhaps important to note that this isn’t strictly specific to religion, as Morfydd addresses: “You could get the same kind of thing through any group you join.”
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