Horror. Worldview. Faith.

May – Review

May – Review

Oct 3, 2012

reviewed by Skot
directed by Lucky McKee, 2002

“If your eye offends you, pluck it out!” – Jesus

The horror industry has generated a zillion different incarnations of vampires, zombies and ghosts.  What you see much less often are reiterations of the Frankenstein myth.  Lucky McKee wrote and directed this 2002 cult favorite.  It’s a body horror gem that verges on black comedy at times.

When the title character was a little girl, she was afflicted with a lazy eye and made to wear a patch to school.  “Are you a pirate?” one little boy taunted.  She was isolated by the experience of having an imperfect physical trait.  Most of us do not grasp the effect which extreme solitude can have upon a sensitive child, especially when it pertains to a bodily feature.  What little bit we see of May’s parents suggests they too could’ve used a few hours upon a therapist’s couch.  May’s only friend was a doll.  And such a doll.  Some people find dolls kind of creepy.  But this doll is creepy with the volume set to eleven, let me tell you.

Later, grown-up May works at a veterinarian clinic.  We quickly learn that she has become infatuated with Adam, a mechanic and aspiring filmmaker played by Jeremy Sisto.  Her awkward attempts to make him notice her are humorous and endearing.  Angela Bettis combines the right proportions of allure and cluelessness.

In one of her first conversations with Adam, May asks, “Don’t you think I’m weird?”  “I like weird,” he says.  They both seem to really be surprised by each other.  Eating sandwiches in the park, she tells him that she works at an animal hospital doing tasks that a lot of people consider gross.  He seizes the challenge saying, “Go ahead.  Disgust me.”  She proceeds to relate a truly repulsive episode that appears to sour even Adam’s appetite.  When he shows her his apartment, he’s impressed that she doesn’t recoil at his macabre collection of horror movie related artifacts.  Later, Adam presents May a private screening of his film about two lovers who become so carried away with their lovemaking that they literally cannibalize each other.  It’s played for whimsy as well as shock.  He’s anxious about what she’ll think, worried that she’ll be turned off by the dark side of his personality that he’s usually so reticent to share.  Her response to his movie was not quite what he expected.  “I think it’s sweet,” she says, and moves in for a snuggle.  It seems he’s met his match and then some.  But there’s weird and then there’s weird.  May is weird.

With each person May meets, she fixates on a particular part of that person’s body.  For instance, she loves Adam’s hands.  Anna Farris plays May’s flirtatious lesbian coworker.  May loves her neck.  Another girl is prized for her beautiful “gams.”  And a boy for his arms.  There are so many beautiful parts.  It’s just hard to find someone who has the whole package.

McKee’s writing and direction are critical for the success of this picture.  But it all hinges on Angela Bettis as May.  This is an extremely challenging role.  One could play the lunatic-slasher-serial-killer or the sympathetic-cute-nerdy-girl looking for her prince charming or the damaged-stalker a’ la Fatal Attraction relatively easily, but it takes a true dramatic maestro to pull all three together into one.

While I think it’s a good movie, it’s not without flaws.  The part about the blind children is not as exploitative as you might expect, but I found it hard to understand how it adds anything important to the story.

I’ve seen May twice.  Once in 2003 and once last weekend (2012).  It wasn’t as good for me the second time round as I remembered from the first time.  I think it’s too polished and would play better with a lower budget feel.

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