Saint Maud director says her new romance thriller Love Lies Bleeding has unexpected parallels to the horror movie

Kristen Stewart as Lou and Katy O'Brian as Jackie in Love Lies Bleeding
(Image credit: Future/Total Film magazine)

On paper, Saint Maud and Love Lies Bleeding don't sound like they have very much in common. Other than both being directed by Rose Glass, the former is a quiet horror-esque tale about a nurse who slowly loses her grip on reality after a terrible workplace accident, while the former is a violent, '80s-set romance-thriller packed full of synth-pop anthems.

In Glass's mind, though, they're more similar than you might think. "There are parallels between Jackie's character and Maud," the filmmaker tells Total Film in our new issue out this Friday, which features Road House on the cover. "They're both trying to transform themselves, and arguably not in the most responsible ways."

Starring Katy O'Brian and Kristen Stewart, who appear in the exclusive image above, Love Lies Bleeding follows ambitious bodybuilder Jackie (O'Brian), as she falls for reclusive gym manager Lou (Stewart) while passing through the latter's crossroad town on her way to Las Vegas. But the loved-up pair's relationship is quickly put to the test when they get caught up in some of Lou's crime family's dangerous affairs. Jena Malone, Anna Baryshnikov, Dave Franco, and Ed Harris, as Lou's gun-toting, mullet-sporting father, round out the supporting cast.

"I liked exploring the qualities that somebody who does bodybuilding would have to possess, and the different ways they had the potential to be misguided or manipulated or abused by other people in their life," says Glass. "Jackie's got all this strength, energy and drive."

Saint Maud

(Image credit: Studio Canal)

"There was something so nice about the nightmare fantasy of, you know, throat-fucking your evil dad with your girlfriend, and running off into the clouds," Stewart laughs, explaining what she found so appealing about the project. "We've really just started to allow women to make films in the scheme of things, if you really zoom out. 

"We're not encouraged to make icky things. It's like, everyone needs to fill their marginal-content quota with affirmations or something. Rose definitely didn't feel inclined to be affected by that pressure. It was almost like it pushed her in a different and new direction. I was like, 'Fuck, this person has got it.'"

Even more so than Saint Maud, which sees Morfydd Clark's titular character become disturbingly hellbent on saving her dying ward (Jennifer Ehle), Love Lies Bleeding plays with what is real and what isn't. "It sort of means that you're able to lean into the more operatic qualities of gruesome, juicy violence, which in filmmaking is just a lot of fun. Subtlety is not the quality at the forefront of many things in the film."

Love Lies Bleeding opens in UK cinemas on May 3 (after opening in US cinemas on March 8). You can read more about it, and a whole lot else besides, in the new issue of Total Film when it hits shelves and digital newsstands on Friday, March 1. This is one day later than usual, due to how the Leap Year falls. 

Check out the covers below:

Total Film's Road House covers

(Image credit: Prime Video/Amazon MGM Studios/Total Film)

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Editor-in-Chief, Total Film

Jane Crowther is a contributing editor to Total Film magazine, having formerly been the longtime Editor, as well as serving as the Editor-in-Chief of the Film Group here at Future Plc, which covers Total Film, SFX, and numerous TV and women's interest brands. Jane is also the vice-chair of The Critics' Circle and a BAFTA member. You'll find Jane on GamesRadar+ exploring the biggest movies in the world and living up to her reputation as one of the most authoritative voices on film in the industry. 

With contributions from