Horror Recommendation: May (2002)
Posted: by Findlay
May (2002); Directed by Lucky McKee
In one sentence: An awkward, lonely girl finds love and friendship. Kind of.
Why you should watch: Lucky McKee is pretty fucking great. His film, The Woman is brutal and wild and All Cheerleaders Must Die is a teen-witchy supernatural horror funfest. The guy gets it. He’s yet another independent horror director proving that indie quality can totally outshine budgets provided by big studios. Everything he makes is always something to be excited about. Plus the guy likes a killer ending. May is no exception.
May details the story of a young awkward woman (Angela Bettis) with an obsession with the macabre, sewing and dolls as she falls in love with “perfect” Adam (Elton from Clueless Jeremy Sisto) as well as her strange ideals of companionship.
May is a beautifully modern gothic tale. By gothic I don’t mean Coal Chamber are blaring and everyone is wearing fucking spike bracelets and burning cloves (sadly), this story is a slow burner. Dense and caring, but dark as fuck. Not relying on gore and jump scares to provide a great horror tale is hard for modern horrors to comprehend, but May does it so confidently. Its basically Ghost World meets Frankenstein. The desire to be loved and understood shared by both teens and Frankenstein’s monster.
May herself is an amazingly complex character played so sweetly by Bettis. Layers and layers built on low self esteem, desire for perfection and the love of sewing. Her connections to the people in her life are odd and awkward. Yet, her love of morbid tales and mortality is done with relish and lust. Little hints of darkness are expressed through facial features or the clever use of props. This is where May shines the most. The details.
The story and acting are delivered really well, but the details really embellish the film. Like the clever use of May’s dolls at points in the film, to express May’s both desires and distains with Adam. Or her face after she tells Adam about a dogs guts bursting over a customer’s front porch. She’s not disgusted by it, but fascinated. Even the editing at points tells its own story. Letting us recap parts of the film and their relation to May, but foreshadowing what’s going to happen. All hinting at the dark tableau hidden beneath May’s fragile outer layers. A darkness that starts to tear and free like sutures towards the end of the film as May heeds her mother’s advice: “If you can’t find a friend, make one”.
The soundtrack is deliciously female driven indie rock and is perfect in that it’s dynamic enough to be both romantic and alienating. Bands like The Breeders and The Kelley Deal 6000 totally going against the grain when most late 90s-early 2000’s horror OSTs were male-led nu metal.
Special mention goes to Anna Faris for being an hilariously unsubtle, airhead lesbian who not only works with May but wants to sleep with her badly. If I ever get to meet her, I’m 100% asking her if the way she acted in May was a piss take. Its *too* funny and overly sensual.
As per, I wont ruin the end. But I will say (just to entice you) it ends on such a surreal, horrific note that totally sits perfectly between gothic fairy tale and gnarly modern horror. So get all introspective and romantic and revise your teen goth years. May will comfort you, fascinate you and no doubt connect to you in the weirdest way possible.
Favorite Line: “So many pretty parts and no pretty wholes.”