Screaming Room 001: St. Maud
Our latest episode is a candid conversation about Saint Maud, a new A24 film from writer/director Rose Glass, with Ink 19’s Phil Bailey and Josh Martin.
Stream the show for reasons to watch Saint Maud all the way to the end, along with some ultra-creepy, late-night double-feature recommendations that pass the Bechdel test.
Josh Martin: So Phil, this week we, uh, we watched the new horror film, Saint Maud, from a first-time filmmaker, Rose Glass, a really, really interesting voice in the horror community, I think. What were your initial thoughts on this?
Phil Bailey: Oh, I, it’s one of those movies… it wasn’t anything what I thought it was going to be, and I think I liked it more for that. The trailers and the little bit I’ve read about it made it feel like it was going to be some sort of like a cloistered nun, oppressive rule on young girls kind of a thing. And it wasn’t, it was a really personal vision of one woman’s religious journey and descent into madness, that fits very well with the A24 vibe and yeah, it was terrific.
Josh Martin: Yeah. I felt the same way where I went into it expecting something very, very different. And while it still was incredibly creepy for its–actually, I think it works so well too, because of the shorter running time, it hovers right around 80 minutes– but again, it was like you said, it was much more personal stories, they’re smaller, and there’s a bit of ambiguity to the supernatural element. It’s about a young woman coming to terms, or rather not coming to terms, with just how oppressive being a woman is in a lot of ways. And she finds an outlet through pretty fanatical religion, Christianity, which also kind of, I felt was really interesting, especially because my personal background growing up in the church, this level of evangelical Christianity where she kind of operates in her own sect. She just I, I couldn’t pinpoint what it was supposed to be, exactly. And I think that was intentional.
clip: Because you haven’t got it, so. I just want to see you loosen up. I’ve got more important things on my mind. Oh, there’s my little saint. Maud. He isn’t real. Nothing worthwhile comes easily.
Phil Bailey: No. It was, the religion was very much Maudism. I mean, it was her own thing and the isolation, everything, she, her whole life, after the very beginning, it was so isolated. She had no other voices except the voices in her head to guide her. And that’s what really led to her fanaticism, was that she had no context for this. She just had this religious epiphany and went with it with no guidance.
Josh Martin: Yeah, no spiritual guidance whatsoever. It reminded me in a lot of ways, it had some elements of it that, if you like this movie, I think that Alice, Sweet Alice came to mind and the wildly underappreciated, in my opinion Exorcism of Emily Rose, not so much the content or form of either of those, was exactly what this was, but just interesting takes on the religious horror, religious horror drama, which is really what it was. So if you liked those, those movies, but, or if you like, like Saint Maud, I would suggest going and finding those, those titles.
Phil Bailey: And all those movies that, they’re also interesting, that they’re about personal religious experiences, particularly women’s personal religious experiences and how they’re molded by belief, or abused by belief, sometimes at the same time.
Josh Martin: Yeah, yeah. In most cases, abused by it. Even to the point where it becomes self-inflicted. There’s a specially cringe-worthy moment in Saint Maud, which I’m not giving away ‘cause it’s in the trailer, but the the tacks that she, through the illustration of Mary, that she puts the thumbtacks through, and puts it in her shoes, just kind of make, made me want to die, personally. It was pretty heavy.
Phil Bailey: Yeah, and then proceeds to go walk the boardwalk.
Josh Martin: Yeah, take a stroll. Yeah. Yeah. Pretty, pretty cringy. It’s great. The, the, during the running time, of the film, I didn’t even notice how, how uneasy I was while watching it. The, the slow burn nature to, to it and the paranoia in the film is really remarkable. So the last 10 minutes, when it finally goes off the rails almost in, a Ari Aster, you know, Hereditary or Midsommar sort of way where, when it finally hits this climax, it is just bonkers and pretty terrifying in my opinion.
Phil Bailey: It is, and, but on rewatch I’ve found, there’s a lot of satirical humor in it. I mean, it is, it is taking some shots and it’s even more uncomfortable because you’re not exactly sure what you’re supposed to feel, if it’s revulsion or humor or both. It’s very dark and the end, which we can’t really go into, but the shocking end that I know had audiences gasping, I think certain audiences like a midnight movie crowd, may also laugh at the end and not necessarily be wrong.
Josh Martin: It could be. Right. Especially given the last maybe 12 frames. So actually, if you do go see this don’t, don’t turn away at the horror that happens on screen because the last, easily, but it could be as little as 12 frames maybe, have this reveal, that’s, uh…but like you said, it is it’s darkly funny in a… in a strange way.
Gregory Schaefer: You’re listening to Screaming Room, a podcast from Ink 19. Today Phil Bailey and Josh Martin discuss Saint Maud, the terror film by writer/director Rose Glass. If you are enjoying this, we have more content for you. Check out our website at Ink19.com online, and we are also all over social media, like the filthy little virus it is. Just look for Ink 19 Mag, that’s M A G as in magazine. Got it? Ink19.com and Ink 19 Mag. I don’t know about you, but I cannot wait to see this film. So let’s get back to the show and hear more from Phil Bailey and Josh Martin, as they discuss A24’s release Saint Maud by writer/director Rose Glass. It’s Screaming Room from Ink 19.
Phil Bailey: It’s a frustrating movie because it is a horror movie, it was marketed as a horror movie, and where of course let’s get that they, no one cares about the award season, but if this wasn’t marketed as a horror movie, and just marketed as a, you know, art film for lack of a better term, I think some of the performance, I think the lead performance in this could definitely have gotten some award buzz. I think it, the film did get like a BAFTA nomination for best new film or best British film, but you know, you make 12 films a year, you’re going to get something nominated.
Josh Martin: You know, you think also this, this was kind of a victim of the pandemic in a huge way as well, because this was to come out a year ago in early 2020, and A24, luckily they did get behind it and say that this deserved a theatrical release and they held off on it and didn’t just put it to video-on-demand right away, but I think that, that ultimately hurt it too, when it comes to that kind of you know, bullshit recognition or whatever, you know the awards are, but they, they, they benefit films, you know? I mean, without that buzz would Nomadland right now, be I mean, that’s an excellent film, but I’d be wondering if my grandmother would be talking about that movie, if it weren’t for the fact that it’s gotten so much award buzz surrounding it now, the the, nomination for best picture for the Oscars. So I think that that, that, that could have benefited the film in a lot of ways from a marketing standpoint, but hopefully it will find its audience down the road. It did okay. You know, the, the, the special box office numbers weren’t bad, but they weren’t, they weren’t blowing anybody away. So I’m hoping that this is a film that’s really going to find its audience on video within the next few years.
clip: This is life and death on another level. What if I’m getting it all wrong? All the good girls go to hell.
Phil Bailey: Yeah. I remember reading about this film. I actually went back to look in September of 2019. Reviews were coming out of festivals that far back. So yeah, it, it was an anticipated movie for a long time, that definitely, with no real theatrical push, hurt it. The, the worry is that streaming gets so about what is brand-new, like this last five minutes. And if it isn’t that, then no one bothers to click past the newest thing, but this is definitely one to seek out. It’s 83 minutes. It is not, you know, a 17-hour mini series. You can watch it.
Josh Martin: Yeah.
Phil Bailey: Before bed.
Josh Martin: If you have time for Zack Snyder’s cut of Justice League, first of all, fuck off, but then secondly, go see, go watch Saint Maud instead.
Phil Bailey: You could watch Saint Maud, Alice, Sweet Alice, and The Exorcism of Emily Rose, and still have time to eat before Justice League is done. So we talked about, we had mentioned Alice, Sweet Alice. We mentioned Emily Rose, there any other horror, religious, female-centered kind of movies that are out there on streaming, if some one wanted to pair this up, make a double feature or something out of it?
I’m going to jump in just off the top of my head. One of ‘em I always loved to go to is The Sentinel. 1977, not the Michael Douglas action movie, but it’s got Burgess Meredith. He plays well, I can’t give that away. It is absolute Catholic paranoia, horror, supernatural, Jeff Goldblum plays a creepy fashion photographer. It’s gold.
clip: The Sentinel. The most frightening motion picture, experience of your life. And the most revealing. Turn around, look behind you. Be one with us. No!! There is evil everywhere. And The Sentinel is the only hope.
Josh Martin: Uh, Ken Russell’s The Devils, I think, would be something that would kind of fall into that camp as well. Dark take on uh, you know, on religious horror, but there’s kind of an oddness to it, if you’re, if you’re ever familiar with any kind of Ken Russell, yeah, certainly Altered States and Crimes of Passion uh, some pretty pretty upsetting movies. So that, that I think would definitely fall into that camp.
Phil Bailey: Yes, and it is mercifully on streaming again. It’s on Shudder and it’s pretty female-centric. I think Vanessa Redgrave fans might disagree that it’s not terribly female-centric being the whole thing takes place at a convent.
clip: The Devils, is not a film for everyone. Vanessa Redgrave, Oliver Reed, in Ken Russell’s film of The Devils.
Josh Martin: And I think also a newer one that got a little bit of play, but isn’t as heavy in the, in religion, but uh, is The Lodge. Came out in 2019. There is, it’s such a good film from the. I believe they’re husband and wife. Right? Who made, uh, Good Night, Mommy? Belgian filmmakers.
clip: Y’okay? I don’t want to leave you here with the kids if you’re not feeling up to it. I’m feeling fine. It was my idea. And it’s a couple of days, I can do a couple of days. Okay guys, I’m off. Have fun. What is that? A surprise.
Josh Martin: Opens with an incredibly upsetting, uh, surprise. Like you just don’t see that coming. And actually an issue I took with my Good Night, Mommy was that The Lodge actually commits to the end. Um, It’s a very, very upsetting film while you’re watching it. It’s like get in there, slow burn thriller, but it committed, I feel like the, that they didn’t, they didn’t cop out in the last five minutes. Like a lot of movies tend to in the genre.
Phil Bailey: Actually you hit it. That is, The Lodge is a great companion piece to Saint Maud, because it is all about kind of a personal twisted religious journey. The isolation…
Josh Martin: Yeah. And now you’re right alongside the, the, the female lead in The Lodge where you don’t know if she’s crazy. She doesn’t know if she’s crazy or what she’s, you know, the entire time it, it works so well. It was one of my favorite movies of 2019, actually, especially genre-related.
Phil Bailey: Oh, same here. And also, it gets really darkly funny on rewatch.
Josh Martin: I know it does, it’s uh, I watched it a second time. Which I didn’t feel like that at all when I saw it in the theater the first time…
Phil Bailey: No, it was white knuckle.
Josh Martin: … I didn’t feel the humor at all. Yeah.
Phil Bailey: And watching it again when you know what’s happening, the ending, instead of being shocking, is so fun.
Today’s episode of Screaming Room was produced by Julio Diaz, Frank Dreyer, Patrick Greene, Ian Koss, Rose Petralia, and Gregory Schaefer. Theme music was composed by Avi Bortnick—check him out online at avibortnick.com. Big thanks to Phil Bailey from Ink 19 and Josh Martin.