January 13, 2004 -- “May” is a standard low-budget slasher film, except for two things, a well-written script, and a great performance by the leading lady, Angela Bettis (“Bless the Child”). Bettis plays May Dove Canady, a deeply troubled woman with a tortured past who is way outside the realm of normal. May is a very strange person. In flashbacks, we see how she got that way. Her equally strange mother raised her in a very warped way. Much of this painful past is tied up in a relic from May's childhood. A doll which seems to have a malevolent personality of its own. The doll's face seems to reflect May's mood.
May works as an assistant in a veterinary clinic. She is also an avid seamstress. She is handy with a scalpel and a bone saw and she is also very good at closing wounds with sutures. Things seem fairly normal, at first. May is weird, but she functions on the fringe of society, holding down a job. She has few friends, though. Trouble starts when she acquires a boyfriend, Adam Stubbs (Jeremy Sisto of the “Six Feet Under” TV series). Adam is into weird chicks. He shows her a short horror film he made in which two lovers eat each other alive. Rather than being shocked by this, May finds it stimulating. She is inspired to start chewing on Adam. For some reason, Adam is not amused by this. May also has a fling with the another employee at the veterinary clinic, Polly, an attractive lesbian (played by Anna Faris of “Scary Movie”).
Things don't work out. Adam finds May too weird, and painful, even for him. He dumps her. Polly also dumps May for another girl. The loss of her friends causes May to lose what little sanity she has left. She goes on a gory killing spree. If she can't find a friend, she decides to make one out of her favorite body parts of people she knows. The hacking, sawing and stitching begins. All of this would probably be unbearable without the film's dark humor to ease the otherwise depressing and horrifying plot. First-time writer-director Lucky McKee knows how to push the horror elements of the movie over the edge of reality into camp humor. There are also a few supernatural elements in the plot which set it apart, especially in the shocking final scene. The attention given in the script to psychological detail also gives the film additional power. Although the film's low-budget drive-in-movie heritage is obvious, it is well-written and competently crafted. Although some of the minor roles are poorly acted, as is common in low-budget horror films, Bettis gives such a powerhouse performance she elevates the film to the next level.
This will probably end up being a cult film and a guilty pleasure for many. I found it intense to the level of being a little sickening. May's descent into madness is more than a little unnerving. There is also quite a bit of blood and gore in the film. This is a powerful, unsettling horror film, elevated by a breakthrough performance by Bettis. This film rates a B.
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