Review of "May" (2003) DVD

Review of "May" (2003) DVD
"May" (2003) - Director: Lucky McKee - Starring: Angela Bettis, Anna Faris, Jeremy Sisto - Review contains some mild spoilers.
Updated: 09-30-2003

"Welcome to the Dollhouse" meets "Carrie" vs. "Young Frankenstein"?


"May" isn't really a horror movie - unless you include the first ten seconds of the movie, or the last few minutes. So, maybe it is a horror movie? That's one of the main issues with "May". What does it want to be? Horror? Dark comedy? Maybe even a drama? You don't have to be one or the other (Peter Jackson's "Dead Alive" is a brilliant horror-dark-comedy), but the director needs to commit enough to one or the other, if not both, to make the movie keep your interest all the way through. "May" is a film worth watching for indie horror/gore fans, but it's lacking that extra something that could have made it great.


The main character in the movie is named, you guessed it, May. Actress Angela Bettis plays the title roll. Though I couldn't immediately recall seeing her before, a quick look at her bio ("Girl, Interrupted", "Vallen", etc.) screams "hipster indie chick". "May" (the movie, not the character - notice the quotes) has a few elements that push it into the realm of almost-trying-to-be-too-hip-for-its-own-goodedness. Did they really need to start some girl-rock song really loud in the background every ten minutes? Were they trying a little too hard with the lighting and mood colors? Maybe.


Bettis actually does a pretty good job as the nerdy girl who's actually really hot behind the silly glasses. Anna Faris of "Scary Movie" also stars as one of May's friends, if you want to call her a friend. Part of the point of the movie is that May doesn't really have any friends. (Well, not any human friends at least.) Faris plays the roll of the over-the-top wildly horny lesbian who has a crush on May and every other girl she's ever met.


May's only real "friend" is a doll named Susy who lives in a little glass box in May's room. Susy looks very sad. May talks to Susy because, guess what? She's crazy! Besides the crazy-person-China-doll, May also has a lazy eye. A lazy eye and a sad doll - how could she not be crazzzzy? Get it? May's mother, who appears only in the first part of the film, isn't above making her feel insecure about the eye. (They're all going to laugh at you!) The lazy eye is actually a plot device that gets developed a little in the beginning of the movie, but then mostly fades away until the end. "May" can be split into three parts - the beginning is pretty interesting and funny, the end is cool horror, and the middle drags a wee bit.


"May" was written and directed by Lucky McKee. His only previous project of note was co-writing and co-directing "All Cheerleaders Die", an ultra low budget zombie movie. Considering it's only his second movie, this one is pretty well done. The photography is beautiful in some parts, the sound is good, and there are some good gore effects later in the movie. Though the characters are way over the top, Jeremy Sisto is perfectly cast and there is some truly funny writing in parts. Even if it isn't perfectly executed, the idea of basing a horror movie around a character like May is interesting.


May isn't a popular girl. She's very quirky and doesn't seem to connect with anyone around her. As you would guess, she eventually meets a boy (Sisto) who she likes, and who seems to like her. All is not as it seems. Boy problems ensue, then girl problems, then animal problems (meow), and even blind little kid problems (great scene). Don't worry though, because a costume party is just around the corner. And you know what costume parties mean in horror movies? They're like Mardi Gras parades in action movies. Time for confusion! "Great costume, May!"


The ending of this movie is not a big surprise, nor does it totally make sense. It's cool for the viewer (especially if the viewer likes gore), and it brings the movie to a horror-friendly conclusion, but it's still not fully believable. Why does she do it? It's not like May seemed in love with Susy to start with, so why? Regardless, the final scene is well done and almost brought a tear to my eye.


Overall, I liked this movie despite the fact that it didn't totally work. I have a feeling there are some people who are going to love this movie (chick flick?) and some who will really hate it (what's the point? where's the nudity? where are the scary parts?) I'll be keeping an eye on future projects by Lucky McKee. His writing/directing career is just starting and, as low budget indie movies go, this project isn't bad. With a little more money and some more experience behind him, good things are possible. Hopefully he'll put out some more horror movies down the road, instead of doing like some others and abandoning the genre once his name is more well known.


The DVD I watched features two tracks of commentary, some of which is informative, some of which is funny, and some of which is neither. I couldn't sit through both commentary tracks in their entirety, but it's cool that they decided to include that much extra stuff on a minor release like this.

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