May – Dir: Lucky McKee
Angela Bettis, Jeremy Sisto, Anna Faris
is a horror movie for people who don’t like horror movies.
To be fair, it’s also a horror movie for people who do like horror
movies, which makes it a horror movie for pretty much everyone and
not to be missed.
The set up is as follows. May Canady (Angela Bettis) is a socially
awkward young woman with a wandering eye (corrected by glasses and
contacts) and a penchant for talking to the ceramic doll given to
her as a child. Having grown up with no real friends, May’s interactions
with others are strained, often to a comical degree and I found
myself watching her with equal parts pity and bemusement. Having
recently passed into the realm of womanhood May becomes attracted
to Adam (Jeremy Sisto), a mechanic whose shaggy mane and blue-collar
clothing make him look like an amalgamation of all the members of
The Strokes. In particular, May is fascinated by Adam’s hands, bringing
to mind the Seinfeld episode in which George becomes a hand model
(a reference that’s vaguely alluded to in the film.) Adam initially
finds a certain charm in May’s naiveté and the two hit it off. But
he soon notices a darker side to the waifish ingénue’s behavior
and spurns her, sending her reeling into the arms of Polly, a lesbian
cad and co-worker of May’s played by Anna Farris (“Scary Movie”).
As May is exposed to both the pleasures and perfidy that are inherent
in modern sexual politics, she becomes more and more unhinged, and
her psychological disintegration is represented by the slow cracking
of the case in which her favorite doll is ensconced. Finally, May
snaps and decides that since everyone has at least one “perfect”
part, she’ll take the best parts of everyone and combine them into
a “perfect” friend.
What will non-horror fans like about “May”? For starters, it’s
original. “May” doesn’t go anywhere near the predictable path of
a slowly mounting body count that most horror flicks follow and
instead looks to May’s disturbing inner battles to create tension.
And cinematography buffs will appreciate “May’s” eclectic angles
and set design. While I’ve read reviews that compare the film to
the work of Italian horrormeister, Dario Argento, I found myself
more reminded of Cronenberg on his good days. (“The Brood,” “Naked
Lunch”) “May” also has a contemporary feel, showing young adults
who have a modern set of sexual mores as opposed to the pre-HIV
mantra of “Let’s fuck anything” that most accessory slasher movie
characters seem to inherit. (This is may be the first horror film
truly aimed at Generation Y.) Finally, “May” has an intellectual
girth that would appeal to highbrow viewers – it’s a reflection
on the lonely individuals who fall through the cracks of society
yet yearn for normal interaction.
But lowbrow horror buffs (a group to which I proudly claim membership)
will find plenty to like too. Though the bloodshed doesn’t start
until late in the game, it’s by no means sparse. And director Lucky
Mckee proves more than capable of creating an unsettling mood throughout
the film, imbuing the viewer with the notion that something’s wrong
here, even if they can’t quite put there finger on it. Combine all
that with - Praise Jesus! – lesbian scenes with the divinely beautiful
Anna Faris and “May” definitely passes the mustard for the “Fangoria”
This is not to say “May” is perfect. I found the title character’s
transition from timid geek to murderous chic a bit too sudden. (Though
Angela Bettis certainly comes across as a capable actress – it’s
more a flaw of editing) And the final concept of May Frankensteining
together a perfect person wasn’t particularly intriguing.
Nonetheless, you could do a lot worse. The film is an excellent
example of a self-actualized voice sneaking from the sidelines of
cinema and using the limitation of a low budget as an impetus to
get creative. The film easily trounces such recent genre offerings
as “Darkness Falls” and “Fear Dot Com,” both of which operated with
bigger stars and greater FX budget. With a little luck, the creative
forces behind “May” can go far in the movie world.