Day 20: May (2002)

Director: Lucky McKee

Starring: Angela Bettis, Anna Faris, Jeremy Sisto

Runtime: 93 minutes

Lucky McKee is one of the new up-and-coming horror filmmakers that I believe will produce some of the more interesting and off-beat entries in the genre’s future. I would rank May up there with The Descent and The Mist as the last decade’s best horror movies. But while The Descent and The Mist share a more traditional atmosphere, May comes from a newer, stranger, more tongue-in-cheek approach. Many of the scenes are comical, if a bit sad, although by the film’s end, things get a bit more disturbing.

POSSIBLE SPOILERS FOLLOW

May (Angela Bettis) is shy, socially awkward, and as a child has a lazy eye, which alienates her (she has to wear an eye patch to correct it). To compensate for this, her mother gives her a doll named Suzie as a friend, although the doll is inside a glass case. As an adult, May’s lazy eye gets fixed, but she is just as socially awkward. She tends to fixate on certain body parts; when she meets someone, she’ll say, “You have a really nice….” Needless to say, people find this peculiar.

But she meets a guy named Adam (Jeremy Sisto), who claims to like her weirdness. Her co-worker Polly (Anna Farris) also starts to take interest in her. She also volunteers at a school for blind children, perhaps identifying with them from her experience with her lazy eye. Things are looking up for her, but they quickly go down hill.

May still talks to Suzie—who seems to be her only true friend. Once Adam stops finding her quirks charming, and Polly shows her interest in other women, and she can’t even get some affection from a cat that Polly gave to her, May’s sanity starts to crack. She feels that every one is mocking her.

At first, when May lashes out, it almost seems funny—the dialogue is obviously meant to evoke laughs, despite the violence you know that’s coming. “No, I’m not going to be your friend!” says the stranger who comes back to her apartment (in a pretty transparent effort to seduce her), after he finds a grisly discovery in her freezer. The dialogue throughout much of the movie is over-the-top, intentionally so. Loud rock music makes up the soundtrack for much of the beginning of the movie. But the tone gets much darker as the movie goes on. On Halloween night, May goes on a killing spree, deciding that since she can’t seem to find a friend, she’ll make one out of the parts she’s admired. What I remember of the killing scenes is that even though you know they’re coming, they’re more quiet and chilling than you would expect.

The ending, with May assembling her new “friend” ala Victor Frankenstein, is more sad and disturbing the previous film lets on, though I would say the movie “earns” it. Bettis does an excellent job at embodying both sad vulnerability and psychopathic rage. Sisto plays the charming but arrogant Adam well, and Faris is fun as the hyper-sexed, hyper-active lesbian. Definitely a quirky film worth checking out.

Angela Bettis

May (Angela Bettis) thinking about how to make her friend come to life.

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3 Responses to Day 20: May (2002)

  1. duplexofthedamned says:

    Worth mentioning that May’s mother is a control freak, whose cruel quest for perfection becomes twisted into May’s obsession and ultimate control fantasy…and that the creepy Suzie’s glass case keeps on cracking along with May’s sanity. There is pathos in this take on Frankenstein–May creates as much out of her desire for love as for power, and although she cannot breathe life into her patchwork “friend,” she becomes her own sad monster. Ultimately, the film cut a bit too close to the bone (pun intended) for this viewer’s pleasure.

  2. staringatangels says:

    SPOILER: But she _did_ breathe life into her! Just before May dies, we see Amy’s hand reach up to comfort her…and May smiles in bittersweet satisfaction.

    • duplexofthedamned says:

      I thought that was either a fantasy or an autonomic reflex. I probably was distracted by the part where (SPOILER) May sews on an eye (ewwww!) like she’s fixing a Raggedy Ann doll. Well, in the movies, anything can happen…”give my creation half-life!”

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