Director: Lucky McKee
Shy, awkward and sweetly psychotic May (Bettis) had a rough upbringing. She was born with a lazy eye and was forced by her momma to wear an eye patch throughout her reject childhood. How bad are her social skills now that she’s all grown up? Well, her best friend is a spooky doll encased in a glass box…'nuff said on that. One day, May feels ambitious and decides that she desperately wants to fall in love with a real person. Her foray into the “relationship” game will lead her to an ugly and gory place. Be afraid, be very afraid...this girl is like my three ex-girlfriends rolled into one! FUCKIN' BEYOND INSANE!
“If you can't find a friend, make one."— May’s fucked up mom
Blow my cock off with a 12-gauge shotgun! Who knew that the Montreal World Film Festival would present such a ballsy and chunky film amidst its collection of pretentious artsy crackers!!!! Thank you JoBlo for convincing me to go peek under this bad girl’s skirt! And thank you Lion’s Gate for once again having the balls to distribute an edgy flick! “May” was a freaking delight; a horror swan song that touched my heart and filled my retinas with beautiful splashes of red. I laughed, I squirmed, I fell in love with the lead loon and I cried when the credits rolled because the insane ride was over!
This horror whammy starts off as a very quirky and bleak tale about being the outcast and trying to fit in a society where people mostly grade you on looks. Angela Bettis (May) makes sure that this particular theme hits us by delivering an astounding performance. She is a revelation here and carries the film on her little shoulders like a relentless “acting” trooper. The gal made me feel so much in regards to her character and the director should pat himself on the ass for this wonderful piece of casting. I was scared, charmed, put off, sad for and aroused by the dame all at once. You name it, the chick did it to me…do I smell a wedding in the air? I think so, because Bettis rocked my kasba!
The movie itself can be kind of perceived as two films rolled in one. The first half is an off-beat but still fairly edgy horror version of let's say a “Ghost World”. We follow our “one smoke short of a cigarette pack” heroine as she tries out the dating game for the first time. She sets her eyes on a brooding, horror fiend mechanic named Adam (Sisto) and the results of their courtship brings in hilarious yet messed up circumstances that are sure to unsettle. We also get lots of clever dialogue, dark humor galore (loved Adam’s cannibal movie), a groovy lesbian subplot with the delicious Anna Farris (yes, from "Scary Movie") looking all moist, themes of fetishism/masochism and some well put symbolism (loved the whole doll angle and the “body parts” attention). Boy, did this flick have me by the collar with all its goodies or what?
But as I was viewing this morbid but still somewhat kooky in its zaniness first half, I had a strong gut feeling that it would become real ugly in order to bring it all home. There was a voice whispering in my ears: “You’re fucked Arrow, you’re fucked, you dumb bastard”. Was the voice, right? I’ll get back to that shortly. The film’s second half takes a simpler and less layered "Dr. Frankenstein with PMS on the hunt" type of route. And on a slight downside, it did feel a tad more commercial. I was almost expecting Rob Zombies “Living Dead Girl” to kick in when May walked out in her kool Halloween costume. The loss of the razor sharp humorous tone also contributed to this more “standard” feel. Where did the quirkiness go?
But being the gore fiend that I am, the last block made up for its minor shortcomings by throwing gripping, suspense-filled kills and buckets of thick blood all over my stupefied face. My senses were pounded severely and yes...I WAS FUCKED but in an orgasmic horror kind of way! Props to the director for the way he handled both potent elements! I felt so uneasy during the murders...it wasn’t even funny. This dude knows how to milk a stab scene. As for the unapologetic indulgence in red slosh, well, it had me wincing like a schoolgirl getting the paddle. That slit throat was one for the books on both a tension and gross-out level. Another bonus that this film’s butcher shop second half brought me was that it got rid of the more high-brow audience members watching this flick with me. All kinds of snots high-tailed it out of there once the body parts started hitting the fan. Pussies…he he he….
I was also surprised at how much the slaughter second half brought to the film in terms of the character’s “emotional” evolution. Seeing May, growing stronger and gaining confidence through the mayhem was a red wet delight. And this brings me to my only REAL complaint about the movie, which are its last frames. I felt that they totally negated where May was supposed to be emotionally after everything she went through. I also craved a more fulfilling ending for this psycho hottie, there was just something missing and the ending also felt a tad too ambiguous for my liking.
Having said all that, May was a beautifully directed, well acted and horror friendly tale of love, self esteem and scalpel mayhem. You have to respect a film that dares to be this unpleasant and this off color. I mean, the scene with the blind kids “searching” for the doll is as politically incorrect as they come and mucho disturbing. But at the same time, it’s wickedly funny. I almost felt ashamed that I was giggling while this sequence was rolling before my eyes. Toss in there a score/soundtrack that will make you punch the guy next to you out of joy and you know what you get…a horror whore worth calling your lady. I think I’m in love with May! MARRY ME NOW GIRL OR GET THE AXE!
Somebody is on the rag! This gal be bloody! We get all kinds of nasty scalpel action on human beings, scissors planted in one’s head, crazy throat slit, nasty operations being done on animals and lots of body parts. This honey bun of a girl puts Michael Myers to shame.
Angela Bettis (May) communicates so much through her performance. She’s scary, she’s odd, she’s sweet, she’s cute, she’s crazy and she’s pathetic…yes, she kicks ass! Great show! Jeremy Sisto (Adam) brings in a more stable presence in this sea of loonies. His composed and grounded approach to the part made the insanity around him so much more real. And yes, the man is just too kool for school. I loved him in "Hideaway"! Anna Farris (Polly) is hilarious as the overly wet lesbian. She borders over-the-top on occasion but it works for her “Lynchish” type of role.
T & A
Angela Bettis (May) strips down to her bra and gives us nip action through a shirt. Jeremy Sisto (Adam) goes shirtless for the ladies.
The man has a strong handle on his style, giving us lots of well executed montages, tight shots galore, a few groovy subliminal cuts, solid ways of building momentum and a great use of sound (loved the whispers and the glass cracking sounds). This guy will go places in the genre, mark my words!
We get an eerie score by Jaye Barnes-Luckett and some rock-pop-punk like tunes from the likes of The Breeders and the Kelly Deal 6000. Lots of slick noise in this house!
Distributor: Lions Gate Films
DVD Release Date: July 15, 2003
IMAGE: The 16x9 Widescreen image was adequate, but was it me or was it not as sharp as it should’ve been?
SOUND: The 5.1 Dolby Digital sound came through hardcore especially when it came to the fly tunes and solid score from the film.
Commentary 1: Lucky McGee (Director), Angela Bettis (Star), Steve Yedlin (DP), Chris Siverstson (Editor), Bret Roberts (Distraught man Vet) and Nichole Hiltz (Ambrosia) all come in to talk about scenes that were cut from the flick, the doll’s origin, trivia on the locations, The Breed tunes in the house, the casting as well as plenty of behind the scenes info. This commentary started off slow, but once it picked up, it became an interesting listen. It helped that everybody sounded like stand up people, had a good sense of humor and seemed to know their horror. Good times!
Commentary 2: Lucky McGee (Director), Jaye Barnes Luckett (Composer), Leslie Keel (Production Designer), Ryan Johnson (Editor) and Benji (The Craft Service guy) are in the slaughterhouse and in good spirits. This commentary also took a while to get going and covered some of the same info than the first one did, but it went a tad more in depth. We hear about the deleted scenes, the many cameos (family and crew), the music, scenes that the director didn’t like and the actors (lots of praise). Again, this commentary did sport some dead time, but the “positive energy” that I felt through it compensated for that and provided for a fun listen. I felt like I was sitting in a room with a group of fine folks, laughing it up and that made it all the rage. Fun stuff!
The DVD box says that we also get the international trailer, but for the life of me I couldn’t find it on the disk (maybe it’s an Easter Egg…God, I hate those freaking things).
Although I would’ve loved a “behind the scenes” featurette and more “visual” extras, this DVD still came through with its 2 entertaining commentaries and of course, the awesome flick. Get it or I’ll cut your hands off!
"May" is a twisted character study that doesn’t hold back on the laughs, the sick happenings and the gore. Let me put it in simple, down to heart terms: May is one pleasure of a fucked up movie. It will most likely not make it on the mainstream train, but I’m sure that it’s going to wind up on the revered “cult classic” list. This one was made for us: the crazy bastards and bitches of the world! It’s our sweet, sad, quirky and gory as hell poem straight from the ripped out heart with a lead actress that will have you glued to the screen. Thank you Lucky McKee, Angela Bettis, Lion’s Gate and all involved with the production. You’re all good in my book of the dead!
I always appreciate it when I feel the love for horror come out of a film. Here, we get enough winks to Dario Argento to know that this dude is on our side. We get a “Trauma” reference, Argento posters on a wall ("Opera" baby…Opera) and Bettis kind of looks like Asia Argento.
James Duvall (of Totally Fucked Up, Doom Generation, and Nowhere fame) has a small role here.
Angela Bettis played the strung out sister in “Bless the Child”.
From an unofficial "May" site: This is the solo feature debut of Lucky McKee. In 1998, he co-wrote and directed a digital video feature, All Cheerleaders Die, with Chris Sivertson. The duo met while both were students at the University of Southern California. Lucky graduated from USC's Filmic Writing program in 1997. Two years prior, he had written the screenplay for May. Several of the short student films he completed around that time, served as studies of the title character. Out of this, grew a screenplay, which in the end he viewed as a "brother/companion" to May, called Roman. After graduation, McKee left Los Angeles and headed back to his hometown in Calaveras County, CA. Not long after wrapping All Cheerleaders Die Site with Sivertson, Lucky prepared to begin shooting Roman, but decided to shelve the script for a later time. Then, out of the blue, Marius Balchunas, a fellow USC grad whom Lucky had worked with on a student film, called him. Marius, now a producer at 2Loop Films, told him he had remembered a script Lucky had written and wanted to sign Lucky as a writer and director. May was on her way. Lucky McKee currently resides in Los Angeles.