"You'll laugh 'til you barf, and then barf 'til you laugh."
"May" is an astonishingly distasteful movie, yet an altogether enjoyable one, if that's your thing. It is the sort of blood-soaked flick that straddles the line between humor and horror well enough to be a cult classic -- which is a good thing, because heaven knows it will never find mainstream success."If you can't find a friend, make one." That's the advice given to misfit girl May (Angela Bettis) by her insanely one-dimensional mother (Merle Kennedy). May has a lazy eye, which forces her to wear an eyepatch as a child, which leads to a poor development of her social skills. Now, all grown up and no longer pirate-like in her appearance, she is sweet and friendly, but offputting to strangers.
She works as a veterinarian's assistant and grows fond of Adam (Jeremy Sisto), a mechanic who works down the street. He's an amateur filmmaker, and when he shows her his cannibal-themed student film, she takes it all too much to heart. This is a girl whose best friend, to this point, is a creepy doll her mom gave her. Separating reality from fiction is not her forte. Soon enough, Adam can't take any more of her strangeness, and dire things happen.
First-time writer/director Lucky McKee stays admirably committed to his giddily weird vision. His storytelling is uncluttered and relatively simple, though he does stray at times into a sort of over-deliberate strangeness where characters utter non-sequiturs just to remind us that yes, this movie is bizarre.
He also builds tension very well. The first shot of the film is of a girl's eye spurting blood, but that's the last glimpse of horror we see for quite some time. There is something evil afoot, though, and the sensation of that permeates everything, even when we're laughing at the morbid humor that abounds.
Angela Bettis is strong enough as an actress to carry the film on her petite shoulders. I also liked Anna Faris as Polly, a sultry, David Lynch-ian lesbian who hits on May at work.It is quite gross indeed; make no mistake about that. But it's parable-like lessons and quirky sense of style make it a worthy effort, and a stand-out in its genre.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2002 Seattle Film Festival. For more in the 2002 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.