July 1, 2002

May (2002)

"When May was a child, she was a lonely girl with one lazy eye and without any friend but a weird and ugly doll kept in a glass case given by her bizarre mother on her birthday. When her doll is accidentally broken, the deranged May decides to build a friend for her, using the best parts her acquaintances can offer."

The trouble is that this film is really slow getting off the ground and relies on one character to carry the whole story. Unless you have a really first class actor to do this, no matter what script you have, it isn't going to work. In the trade they call such films "vehicles". In short, this is supposed to be Angela Bettis' "vehicle", but it's one that doesn't have enough fuel in it to take her anywhere.

Angela Bettis is quite pretty but too skinny in that Calista Flockhart kind of way which I don't find all that attractive. She isn't very charismatic onscreen. Don't get me wrong, she does a good job in the role of May (which is more than can be said of her performance in the TV remake of "Carrie"), but somehow I just didn't find her totally credible here either.

The idea that May is slowly going more and more mad because of her inability to make friends is the one I struggled with the most. When she's all dressed up (and with certain camera angles), she is absolutely drop dead gorgeous. Albeit with very thin hair and a high forehead, pretty girls like May never have such socialisation problems in real life. I also kept feeling that I'd seen this all done better before in "Betty Blue", right up to the ending which had a massive similarity.

The second problem with this film is that it isn't scary. No suspense is built up before May starts hacking her acquaintances to death. She just talks to them normally one second and the next they've got a scalpel in their neck or whatever.

There should be a shock value to this, but it doesn't happen. It all looks so fake; the blood is fake, the death scenes occur without any major struggle, screaming or writhing on the floor in agony. We don't even get to see how May gets the bodies home. I just didn't feel anything one way or another with the killings. Most of the "victims" deserved what they got anyway.

The denouement is equally lame. May assembles all her favourite pieces of the people she has killed and stitches them all together. At this point we are supposed to believe that she has totally lost her mind, but the performance is as lacklustre as the rest of the film. There is a certain gleefulness about her as May finishes her project, but that is the only significant change.

Of course the body lacks a head and, most importantly, the ability to see which leads to a "surprising" conclusion. I admit that I didn't see the ending coming (no pun intended) even if it was purely Oedipal and just what Betty did to herself in "Betty Blue" too. It was quite nasty but again not very realistic.

The very last seconds of the film are totally ridiculous and spoil the whole thing anyway. I think we are supposed to believe that we are now in May's mind for the final seconds of her life or something. It just doesn't work. It's almost as stupid as the end of "Deadly Friend", and that's saying something.

So anyway, to sum up, it's all supposed to be one of those "degeneration into madness movies" in this case caused by a female Oedipus complex. It's not much of a horror film then.

I would only rate "May" as 3 out of 10. I'm sure a lot of people who overrate independent films think more highly of it.

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