The psychological horror film ‘Saint Maud’ is the feature film debut of director Rose Glass, who has also written the screenplay for the film. Few horror films in the past have strayed away from the tropes that define that genre and yet manage to soar above the expectations of viewers. Through ‘Saint Maud.’ director Rose Glass brilliantly unearths the bottomless depths of loneliness. The focus is on a nurse (Maud) who is seeking a higher purpose in life after recently converting to Catholicism after she loses her job due to an accident with one of the patients in her care.
Maud’s journey is disturbing in more than one way and takes us through the darkest corners of the twisted psyche of a person gradually descending into insanity. Glass achieves this in a truly chilling fashion. The ending of the film elevates these horrors to a visceral level by shattering the viewer’s perception and demands some much-needed discussion. If you have questions about the ending of ‘Saint Maud,’ you have come to the right place. We have all the answers right here. SPOILERS AHEAD.
Saint Maud Plot Synopsis
Katie (Morfydd Clark) is a nurse who fails to save the life of a patient despite performing CPR. This incident causes her to lose her job and experience trauma. Sometime later, Katie, now going by the name Maud, is working as a palliative care nurse for a private nursing agency. Exposition and flashbacks reveal that she has recently converted to Roman Catholicism. Maud religiously prays to God to show her a path and believes she has to serve a higher purpose in life.
Katie is assigned to care for Amanda (Jennifer Ehle), who is terminally ill with lymphoma. A former dancer and choreographer, Amanda has now lost the use of her legs and is wheelchair ridden due to her illness. After a rocky start, Maud befriends Amanda. Maud is dedicated to caring for Amanda and is devoted to her religion.
Amanda doesn’t share the same affinity for a higher authority as Maud but confides in Maud about her fear of death. Maud believes herself to be a savior, sent by God to save Amanda’s soul, which has wandered deep down the path of darkness. After Amanda joins Maud in prayer, she reveals to Amanda that she feels the presence of God and Amanda pretends to share this feeling with her but is notably humored by Maud’s beliefs.
However, at her birthday party, Amanda mocks Maud for her faith and belief that she is a savior in front of her guests. Maud is distressed and strikes down Amanda. Maud is removed from Amanda’s care and loses her job. She fears God has rejected her and fails to reintegrate herself into society. Her attempts to seek companionship prove futile and without a higher purpose or her faith in God, she has a psychotic breakdown that leads her to take drastic and ghastly actions.
What Happens to Amanda?
After finding out that Amanda shares a good relationship with her new carer, Maud begs God for a sign. She has a corporeal vision, and God seemingly speaks to Maud, blessing her to fulfill her higher purpose. Maud dresses up in holy attire, complete with rosary beads, and embarks to complete the divine task. Maud waits for the nurse to leave and then enters Amanda’s bedroom to find a pale and weak Amanda in her bed. Amanda apologizes to Maud for mocking her but strongly denies the existence of God. Amanda laments Maud’s loneliness, but Maud refuses to believe she is alone. She reminds Amanda of the time they experienced God’s presence in each other’s company.
Amanda admits she pretended to have experienced God’s presence and explains the harsh reality of life and death. Maude breaks down into tears as Amanda takes a demonic form and attacks Maud. She proceeds to mock Maud about resigning to faith in God because of her loneliness. Maud brutally stabs Amanda with a scissor and kills her, believing to have vanquished the demon and served her true purpose. Amanda’s cold, lifeless body lays there covered in blood.
Saint Maud Ending: Maud’s Psychosis
After killing Amanda, Maud is overcome with a feeling of ecstasy similar to the one she experienced with Amanda earlier in the film. She cleans herself with holy water and goes to bed. The next morning, she wakes up to realize she has sprouted a glowing pair of angel wings. She walks down to the beach and sees the sky swirling above her.
The final scene plays out like a coin toss. While the coin is up in the air, we get to contemplate both the possible outcomes. But once the coin lands, the ambiguity disappears and we get a definitive answer. Similarly, in the final scene, we see Maud pour acetone upon herself. The concerned onlookers can be heard in the background as she proceeds to light herself on fire. In a flip shot, we see the people on the beach kneel in front of her, basking in her glory. Maud appears to be ascending to a higher plane of existence.
However, the shocking final shot shows Maud withering in pain as her body horrifically burns from the flames. Any amusement the viewers felt looking at Maud’s struggle with loneliness quickly turns into guilt when we realize how many of the incidents take place inside Maud’s disturbed mind. The final shot reminds us how far we have followed Maud into her dark and deeply distorted version of reality.
It becomes clear that her conversation with God and Amanda’s demonic form both are creations of her psychosis, which results in Maud killing Amanda and then taking her own life. The ending irrevocably changes our perception of Maud from a sympathetic figure to that of a deeply disturbed woman, struggling to deal with the loneliness in her life, and serves as a stark reminder of the fallacies of resigning to any faith without questioning it.
Read More: Where Was Saint Maud Filmed?