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TIFF Review: ‘Saint Maud’ is an Enthralling Slide into Obsession

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Saint Maud

For her feature film debut, writer/director Rose Glass comes out swinging with Saint Maud. The stage is set for a tense tête-à-tête between the film’s two lead actresses, each bringing their A-game to the battlefield. This psychological horror has an intense slow burn that explodes with one of the best final shots I’ve seen on film. 

Saint Maud follows a troubled young nurse who takes a position as the at-home care for Amanda (Jennifer Ehle, Zero Dark Thirty), a former dancer and choreographer. Maud (Morfydd Clark, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) is devout in her religious beliefs and believes that — with Amanda’s cooperation — she can save her soul. A toxic obsession develops and threatens to consume them both.

Maud is coming fresh off the heels of a traumatic experience at her last job posting, leaving her ostracized and disgraced. To move past her tarnished name, Maud has reinvented herself, and when she meets Amanda, she sees a second chance.

Amanda is fascinated by Maud and begins a delicate dance of friendship. When Maud upsets their collaborative balance, Amanda is quick to knock her back into place. Thus, Maud’s world shifts and their fates are forever entwined.

The two leads are captivating as they weave through complex emotions and subtext. Clark delivers a compelling performance, leading the audience on an intensifying journey. Ehle oozes confidence and sexuality; even in her declining state, she’s the cat that caught the canary. 

Maud’s relationship with sexuality is left open and exposed. It’s a cold, raw look at desire and lust in women, and the socially imposed feelings of shame that come when we indulge in those fantasies. She views her needs as indiscretions that must be punished; her piety is held above all else. 

Scenes of a sexual nature are shot in a way that feels very intrusive, emphasizing Maud’s feelings of shame with isolated sound and an unflinching focus. Each moment is dripping with that awkward feeling that comes from a regrettable one-night stand. It’s extremely effective. 

This effect is heightened by the harsh realism with which these scenes are shot, contrasted with other scenes that hold an almost dreamlike quality. It creates an imbalance that reflects Maud’s mental state, highlighting her isolation.

The use of sound and lighting is exquisite. The lack of sound echoes through tense moments, while visceral sound effects are used as punctuation for intensity. Some scenes are basked in shadow and others flooded with light, perfectly reflecting Maud’s perception of events. It draws you into the action and emotion of the film, creating a naturalistic experience right to the shocking conclusion.

Saint Maud is a study of fanaticism told from the perspective of someone who is deeply lost in their own madness. The audience is left to question what is real right up to the final, explosive moments of the film. 

Glass has crafted a tight and powerful film that will stick with you long after the credits roll. Each moment we spend with Maud is an unravelling of her character — a discovery of her deepest, darkest nature. Saint Maud is a slow burn in the best possible way, raising the tension and stirring a sense of unease until it boils over. It’s an enthralling and fascinating film, and it’s an experience you won’t soon forget. 

 

For more from TIFF, check out our reviews of The Lighthouse and Blood Quantum.

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‘Final Destination 6’ Coming to HBO Max From ‘Freaks’ Filmmakers

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Final

Freaks filmmakers, Zach Lipovsky and Adam B. Stein have been brought on board to direct an upcoming Final Destination 6 for HBO Max. Jon Watts is on as producer with Lori Evans and Guy Buswick as writers.

“I will say that it’s not just going to be another kind of ‘we set up a group of people, they cheat death, and then just death gets them.’ And there’s one wrinkle that we kind of added to every movie to kind of like change it up a little bit: this one is… a true Final Destination movie, but it doesn’t follow that kind of formula that we’ve kind of established.” Jeffrey Reddick told Dread Central.

The synopsis for the first Final Destination went like this:

Alex Browning (Devon Sawa), is embarking on a trip to Paris. Alex experiences a premonition — he sees the plane explode moments after leaving the ground. Alex insists that everyone get off the plane and 7 people including Alex, are forced to disembark. All watch as the plane actually explodes in a fireball. He and the other survivors have briefly cheated death, but will not be able to evade their fate for very long. One by one, these fugitives from fate fall victim to the grim reaper.

We will keep you updated on all things Final Destination.

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Stranger Things Season 4 Blooper Reel

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As part of the TUDUM: A Global Fan Event releases, Netflix has given Stranger Things fans a nice little treat. I’m a huge fan of behind-the-scenes and blooper reels! I loved seeing the characters we know so well break the 4th wall when overwhelmed with a case of the giggles. Even the powerful Vecna couldn’t escape landing on the Stranger Things season 4 blooper reel!

Watch our favorite actors break character in this brand new blooper reel below. 🤣

We also found some other behind-the-scenes videos from Stranger Things Season 4 that we thought you would like. With the news of Stranger Things Season 5 being the end of the series, we’re watching all these videos before we have to say our final goodbye. I don’t think we’re ready for this story to end. 😭 Until then, have a laugh with our friends from Hawkins, Indiana!

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‘Cloverfield’ Film Finds a Director To Helm Next Entry

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Cloverfield

We have seen an incredible three Cloverfield-based films so far. The latest being Cloverfield Paradox on Netflix. The latest in the series also managed to lose steam for the secretive franchise. It went too far into the explanation of secrets that we had seen in the first two films. Once the wizard is discovered behind the curtain the game loses its momentum and fun. The upcoming Cloverfield film has found its director from Under the Shadow’s Babak Anvari.

The director’s Under the Shadow was a great piece of horror. It was entirely effective in its scares and story.

There is no word on where the fourth Cloverfield film will take audiences. But, that is for the best. These films have always been shrouded in secrecy and that is what has made them fun. Well… the first two films anyway.

The synopsis for Cloverfield went like this:

As a group of New Yorkers (Michael Stahl-David, Mike Vogel, Odette Yustman) enjoy a going-away party, little do they know that they will soon face the most terrifying night of their lives. A creature the size of a skyscraper descends upon the city, leaving death and destruction in its wake. Using a handheld video camera, the friends record their struggle to survive as New York crumbles around them.

We are happy to see that Anvari is going to helm this entry. We can’t wait to see what he brings to the franchise and to see what direction this entry takes.

What has been your favorite Cloverfield chapter?

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