May

"Very Good"

May Review


How refreshing, after the mild thrills of movies like Final Destination 2 and Wrong Turn, to watch a horror movie with some inner life. It's easy to describe Lucky McKee's May in terms of its similarities to other films; it owes a lot to Brian DePalma's Carrie (lead actress Angela Bettis even played Carrie in the TV-movie redo), with its meek anti-heroine and eventual havoc. To that end, it also brings to mind the Willard remake from earlier this year, with its darkly funny approach to a social outcast, and even bears a passing, coincidental resemblance to sort of a horror version of 2002's Secretary. But May is its own film, made with confidence and skill.

The title character (Bettis) does not have telekinetic powers or a special relationship with rats, although she does work as a vet's assistant. She is an awkward, lonely girl; we see in flashbacks that she was rejected as a child: By other children, because of her lazy eye (and resulting eyepatch); and by her parents, through general indifference and for reasons not entirely known. We see her mother present May with a doll on her birthday, but won't let May take it out of the box, not wanting to "ruin" it; years later, the doll is May's only friend.

I realize this sounds campy, and some of it is certainly close. But like Willard, May generates genuine sympathy for its title character, and wrings humor honestly, not relying on laughs as cheap entertainment insurance. The details of McKee's script come through in quieter moments, and they have a willful perversity that most horror directors reserve exclusively for death scenes. The animal hospital, for example, is the site of several gruesomely funny exchanges (watch for a dog owner's panic about his pet's leg) alternating with the flirtations of May's co-worker Polly (Anna Faris, splitting the difference between sly and goofy).

Both Polly and Adam (Jeremy Sisto, also in Wrong Turn), the object of May's affection, are initially attracted to May because they claim to "like weird." Adam shows May his twisted student film (her evaluation is fairly priceless), but balks at May performing what could lightly be called an homage to his work. One of the movie's more interesting observations is how "liking weird" is often actually an exercise in enjoying predetermined limits; both Polly and (especially) Adam clearly try to indulge their dark sides, and are freaked out when confronted by May's genuine strangeness. It's to Angela Bettis's credit that we "like weird" for most of the movie, even when things get a bit bloody.

As good as Sissy Spacek was in Carrie, that character had a wispy fragility that could make her pitiable, even irritating. Bettis's May is not always of sound mind and at times can barely get a sentence out, but she's an oddly endearing creation. Late in the film, there are several scenes where May, after further rejection, begins to coldly adapt more conventional speech patterns, and Bettis does wonders with words like "dude" and "gams." It's an expertly tragicomic performance.

May's final act is both clever and, after a point, broadly telegraphed; this, in turn, creates an odd combination of tension and impatience as the more outwardly horrific elements of the movie begin to appear. Still, I was especially surprised by the reminder of how gore can be used effectively. I admired the special effects and choreography of, say, Final Destination 2, for example, but without much response more primal than "whoa." Nothing in May is as creative as those Rube Goldberg gore-traps, but it had me flinching more often than not.

If there's a slight whiff of student-film obviousness coming from McKee's labor of love (rife with metaphorical glass-cracking and eye-scratching), it at least feels like classical student-film obviousness. Self-aware sans smarminess, more unsettling than jump-in-your-seat frightening, May is an auspicious (if under-seen) start for McKee, and the best horror film of the year so far that doesn't feature Crispin Glover.

May showers bring June bugs.



May

Facts and Figures

Run time: 93 mins

In Theaters: Friday 11th April 2003

Box Office Worldwide: $150.3 thousand

Budget: $500 thousand

Distributed by: Lionsgate Releasing

Production compaines: A Loopy Production LLC, 2 Loop Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 69%
Fresh: 44 Rotten: 20

IMDB: 6.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as May Dove Canady, as Adam Stubbs, as Polly, as Blank

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

Keanu Reeves picks up his supremely efficient hitman immediately where the 2015 original left him:...

Fences Movie Review

Fences Movie Review

After winning Tony Awards on Broadway, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reteam for a film...

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

A spin-off from 2014's awesome The Lego Movie, this raucously paced action-comedy is proof that...

The Space Between Us Movie Review

The Space Between Us Movie Review

While the premise of this movie makes it look like a sci-fi adventure, the truth...

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

On paper, the idea of a two-hour 40-minute German comedy may not seem very promising,...

Advertisement
Gold Movie Review

Gold Movie Review

Based on a true story, this lively and sometimes outrageous adventure is packed with twists...

Loving Movie Review

Loving Movie Review

While this film tackles a huge issue in the history of race relations in America,...

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

It's been 20 years since we last saw four freewheeling young junkies from Edinburgh spiral...

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Based on an astounding true story, this battlefield drama mixes warm emotion with intense action...

Sing Movie Review

Sing Movie Review

The quality of the animation in this musical comedy may not be up to Pixar...

Jackie Movie Review

Jackie Movie Review

Rather than make a standard biopic about the most famous First Lady in American history,...

Split Movie Review

Split Movie Review

After a few badly received sci-fi blockbusters, M. Night Shyamalan returned to his earthier style...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.