The bits of bodies are better than their collective whole—at
least, according to May’s motto. You could say the same about
the movie May—its bits are slightly better than the
whole, and sewing them together produced a misconceived version
of the bride of Frankenstein rather than a perfect cinematic
creature feature. But in the realm of horror, the bride of
Frankenstein is often preferred over efforts toward perfection.
Sweet May (Bettis) works at a vet clinic by day and
hangs out in her fabric-laden apartment by night, reinventing
herself as an amateur seamstress. She also hears voices and
earnestly talks to a white ceramic childhood doll named Suzy.
Not exactly the ideal girl next door.
As a little girl, May was a social pariah because of her
lazy eye. To make matters worse, her mother forced her to
wear a black eyepatch over the imperfection. She became a
blonde, skinny pirate and an easy target for vicious mockery.
The reverberating childhood trauma of being ignored and ridiculed
made May weird—and not weird in the cool, eccentric, individualistic
manner, but in that disturbing, hair-raising lunatic way.
After a few unsuccessful attempts at friendship in her twenties,
May mentally cracks and cooks up the ingenuously psychotic
plan of sewing up a new best friend. Like her mother said,
if you can’t find a friend, make one. On Halloween night,
she gets a heck of a neck from her sex-crazed lesbian co-worker
(Faris from Scary Movie), two supple hands from
the apple-of-her-eye Adam (Sisto from HBO’s Six
Feet Under), and other bits and pieces along the route
to her mentally screwed end.
The film is as comical as it is grotesque because May has
the teenage ability to gawkily say the wrong thing with dopey
charisma every time she opens her mouth. Her grins are maniacal,
but cringing results from empathetic embarrassment rather
than from any real fear of this wiry psycho.
Even though laughs are pervasive, the gross-outs stand out
as the main course of the film. Director-writer Lucky McKee
pointedly depicts a single character’s frustration with life,
and refuses to hold back on the gore. Blood and guts spew
like broken fountains, an eyeball gets gouged out with a dull
pair of scissors, hands get severed, and that’s not even the
half of the damage.
That being said, I must note that Angela Bettis’s performance
is quite good. The young Texas native (who had roles in Girl,
Interrupted, Bless the Child, and the title role
in last year’s TV version of Stephen King’s Carrie)
does a fantastically creepy job of portraying the complexities
of awkward, desperate May.
Bon appetit, horror fans. You’ll relish this tasty red treat
for years to come. The rest of us, however, will probably
opt to save our lunches.
—Sandra M. Ogle