Sunday, August 1, 2010


True confession: I have been putting off seeing May for a couple of years.  I have heard so much about the film and there is so much hype surrounding it, that I was worried that it would be a disappointment, much like Grace and Ginger Snaps. See, I had heard about those films quite frequently as well, and they were highly recommended to me. I don't know if they were recommended because I am woman and a horror addict, but it was almost expected that I would like them.  I didn't.  I could barely sit through Grace and I only have vague memories of Ginger Snaps.  I just knew I never wanted to see them, or in the case of Ginger Snaps, any of their sequels again. Grace was just too serious and self-important for me, and I think Ginger Snaps was just trying too hard.

I thought May would be the same way.  I was wrong (what I don't know could fill a stadium, I freely admit that).  May is all at once a sensitive, serious portrayal of one woman's alienation/descent into madness AND a dark, creepy horror film.  It works primarily because of Angela Bettis.  Her performance as May deserves a "Horror Academy Award."  May was a lonely child with a lazy eye.  Her mother, convinced that she would never have friends, gave her a doll encased in glass.  This doll became her best friend and a symbol of her growing madness.  As an adult May works as a veterinary assistant.  She is odd and awkward, but strangely beautiful.  She attracts the attention of two people.  Adam, a local mechanic played by Jeremy Sisto, and Polly, the ditsy lesbian receptionist at the veterinary clinic.  May finally has "friends".  Or at least real human connections. The film is told from May's perspective, and when these two "friends" reject her, we feel her pain.  Taking her Mother's advice, "If you can't find a friend, make one", May embarks on a project that would make Dr. Frankenstein proud.

Maybe I loved May so much because I could relate to her.  Not that I have a lazy eye or an obsession with people's body parts, but because everyone has felt rejected or awkward at some point in their lives.  Angela Bettis brings this pain so fully to life onscreen I couldn't help but be moved.  I cried at the end.  I can't remember the last time I cried during a horror film (I cried a bit during the Nightmare on Elm Street remake, but that was because it was so awful and I had paid $8 to see it).

So no, I have nothing against horror films told from a woman's point of view, or films with a feminist perspective.  They just have to be good.  Like May. 

P.S: May follows the growing trend in horror films to feature "cat trauma."  The Orange Menace, who finally agreed to watch another horror film with me, was not amused.  His parting "meow" sounded much like "Fuck this shit."

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