The brightly-lit arcades of a nameless British seaside resort bear witness to a brutal tug of war between faith and fanaticism in writer-director Rose Glass’s striking debut feature.
Infused with the creeping dread of a modern-day horror story, Saint Maud is a mesmerising portrait of religious fervour and sexual awakening anchored by a bravura central performance from Welsh actress Morfydd Clark as the eponymous tortured soul.
Her porcelain features seem to hang in the pervasive darkness of the screen like some ghostly apparition, fixing us with a cold stare that perfectly and chillingly conveys the resolve of a nurse, who will follow silent instruction to the bitter and bloody end.
Cinematographer Ben Fordesman is a willing accomplice, conjuring scenes of gloomily lit domestic drudgery that suddenly thrum with menace and prickle our skin with fear.
Abandon hope all ye who peer through Glass’s distorted lens.
Rating: Five stars