May is a slightly odd and rather interesting 2002 horror film. It follows May, a girl born with a lazy eye to a perfectionist mother. Her mother’s obsession over her eye starts to give May a complex, not helped at all by the fact that her mother has no social skills and passes that trait on to her daughter. May grows up rather awkwardly with a doll as her best friend and an obsession with perfection.
As May slowly starts to come out of her shell, she seeks out companionship with various people in her life. One is Adam, a mechanic she knows nothing about but becomes obsessed with his perfect hands, and Polly, a coworker who is not very bright but seems genuinely kind. The problem is May expects her relationships to unfold unrealistically, and when they inevitably fail, she starts to crack more and more. We get further glimpses into her darkest desires as well as realize that May is so far disconnected from the reality of what relationships (sexual and otherwise) are like that there is simply no possible way for May to fit into the world.
May is a compelling character because she is easy for the audience to be sympathetic too. However, her past trauma versus the things she ends up doing in this movie don’t exactly add up. There is clearly some nature at the core of May’s character, not just nurture. She is mostly a girl that simply did not learn how to socialize or handle the disappointment that everything cannot live up to the expectation of perfection (I say mostly because there is a bit more trauma). She should actually be a difficult monster to feel for, but she’s not. She is clearly lonely, and even as she tries to open up more, people do, in fact, hurt her. Adam pretends to understand her darker side before ultimately rejecting her because of it. Polly is more open about sexuality and not being tied down. May is awkward, uncomfortable, insecure, and seems to want to try the best she possibly can, but her darkness keeps getting in the way. I like horror movies that challenge you in that way and leave you struggling with your response. I am both horrified and fascinated by May as a character and as a movie.
I also mentioned odd, and boy is it. May is not only just odd in content but in some of the choices as far as the film-making itself. Odd is a great choice for this movie. Choosing to have the violence be shown mostly in odd snap cuts. The way the movie shows and gives us auditory clues as to May’s breaking mind. Most of these choices create a movie that becomes as odd and compelling visually as it is in the narrative. There are a few moments I feel the movie takes some turns that maybe don’t work well, but by in large leaning into the weirdness of the movie in all ways makes it unique and worth revisiting.
The movie is also well-acted, especially considering the odd turns a lot of the characters have to make. There are few “indie movie” moments, but nothing so large that it hurts the overall experience. There are also great choices with music and sound effects.
I think where this movie might suffer for some is the same place that all movies that feature the source of horror as the main character. We have a lot less horror in the build-up and suspense because we are in the view of the killer. Instead, the horror comes from the disturbing content and the few moments that manage to take us off guard. This isn’t a bad thing in the least, the content of this movie is honestly a bit nightmare-inducing, and I like movies that experiment with the traditional horror tropes. It can, however, be a turn off for horror fans looking for a specific experience, so it is something I would keep in mind.
So bottom line? I am actually surprised and disappointed that I slept on this movie for so long. It feels it’s age a little bit at certain times, and as I said, a few choices in plot and actual film making were a bit off for me. Overall though, this is a solidly interesting and entertaining movie. It won’t provide a lot of the traditional scares, but there is plenty to be horrified by. Every part of it that could maybe be pointed to as a weakness I feel, is largely overruled by what is so unique and good about it. It is not for everybody, though. If you want more traditional horror or want something that is more about entertainment in the moment rather than reflection after this might not be for you. If you like quirky horror, then this is one you should give a watch (or several). I know I am glad I finally did.