If you just watch the trailer, Saint Maud seems a bit like Stephen King’s Misery. Someone wants to take care of a person but in fact, they want complete control of the person’s life; it’s a familiar story. However, Saint Maud is more than that; it’s about Maud’s tragic delusion and her failure of saving herself.
The movie starts with Maud covered with blood in an empty operation room. This makes us think that she’s some kind of an angel of death. But this is actually a trap. Later in the movie, we discover that a patient died during an operation at Maud’s previous job not because Maud killed the patient but more like by accident. In fact, we learn that Maud suffered from extreme guilt because of the patient’s death. If we piece this together with the fact that Maud has recently discovered God, it looks like Maud chose the path of religion as a coping mechanism for her mental pain. And as she says multiple times, Maud really tries “not to waste her pain” after choosing this path.
When we see Maud tending Amanda, we learn that, regardless of the controlling and judgmental nature of Maud, she does commit herself to taking care of terminally-ill Amanda. Maud firmly believes that she’s doing the God’s work. However, when she’s kicked out from Amanda’s home, something interesting happens. She starts questioning God’s intention and then she temporarily falls into this chaotic state where she goes to a bar, drinks a lot, and has meaningless sex. After we learn about Maud’s incident at her previous job, we realize that this behavior might have been her first approach to deal with her stress and psychological trauma from the incident. So in a way, again, for Maud, religion was sort of a way to go back to a normal-like life with order and devotion, which she’s familiar with already, as a healthcare worker.
Eventually, Maud’s delusion gets even more intensified and the movie ends with a tragic and horrifying ending. Her deepening delusion, dotted with her monologue towards God, reminded me of the one-way conversational style of religious prayers. And her loneliness, which we witness through the entire movie, juxtaposed with her religious devotion, makes this movie not so much of a horror but more of a great tragedy. Maud desperately wanted to get over her trauma and to save herself from despair but in the end, people around her, and even God, couldn’t do it.