Director: Chuck Russell
Stars: Angela Bettis, Jeremy Sisto, Anna Faris
Review by Jeremiah Benjamin
Psychological horror about a lonely young woman traumatized by a difficult childhood, and her increasingly desperate attempts to connect with the people around her.
This is one of my all time favorite movies. If you're like most people, you've probably been asking yourself this question: when will the world of low-budget indies release a character study of a sociopathic veterinary surgeon with a lazy eye whose best friend is a doll in a glass cage she's had since childhood and who becomes obsessed with the hands of an auto mechanic (her male love interest)? The answer is, that masterpiece was released in 2002, it's called May and it was directed by Lucky Mckee, starring the brilliant, gorgeous Angela Bettis. This cult classic (and if it doesn't quite hold the status of cult classic, it by all means should) deals with themes of loneliness, self esteem and depression in a fun, quirky way within the context of a macabre horror piece that pays homage to Argento. A must-see.
A lot of commentators/reviewers immediate reaction to this movie was to compare it to the horror classic Carrie (the Brian De Palma adaptation of the book that first launched Stephen King's career). This comparison was made not just on account of the fact that it was released the same year as the made-for-TV remake of Carrie starring the very same actress, Angela Bettis, in the title role. The basic premise of these two movies share some key ingredients: a socially reclusive girl who is ridiculed by her schoolyard peers develops a unique talent for exerting a specific form of violence to get her innermost needs met, temporarily abates her vengefull antipathy to open her heart to the possibility of romance with the first male suitor to ever approach her, and in the wake of the prompt failure of that love affair, becomes a menace to the world that rejected her -- that logline could apply to both.
Jeremy Sisto (best known for his role in the movie Clueless at the time May came out) plays May's male love interest, a charming gentleman of an artsy disposition who represents the normal social world that May strives to access as her character's innermost personal goal. Sisto's character has an obsession with a certain genre of stylistic horror films and when May tries to relate to him through that aesthetic interest, the communication breakdown between her inability to separate that aesthetic from reality and his inability to understand her leads to an unforgettable moment that reveals both characters' flaws in an intimate scene that is creepy, sexy and genuinely heartbreaking and at the same time.
We can't talk about the movie May without acknowledging another gem of a performance; Anna Farris (best known at the time for her role in the horror parody Scary Movie series) adds some comedic relief while serving as a catalyst for much of the plot that affects the main character, and makes this movie sizzle with a playful and daring homoerotic sensuality.
If you're a fan of stylistic 70's/80's classic horror, this movie will have you at hello. Whether or not you're of the horror genre's target audience, watch this movie for Angela Bettis's performance; it is a deeply moving exploration of pain and isolation with the resonance of a Greek tragedy.
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