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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 23.93%
Just Average: 11.97%
Pretty Crappy: 1.71%
Sucks: 3.42%

7 reviews, 75 user ratings

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by Rob Gonsalves

"A dark, twisted tale of love."
5 stars

Lucky McKee's "May" is the kind of movie I don't want to review so much as psychoanalyze.

Rich with neuroses and psychoses, this strange and ornery work of horror is likely the most gripping geek-girl-gets-even narrative since Carrie (and its star, Angela Bettis, also headlined the TV remake of Carrie). May Canady (Bettis) has been dominated since girlhood by two things: a lazy eye, which crosses unless she wears corrective glasses or lenses, and a creepy doll made by her mom as a girl and then passed down to May. For a long time, the doll is May's only friend, until she meets veterinary coworker Polly (Anna Faris), an avidly sexual lesbian who hits on May at every opportunity, and studly mechanic Adam (Jeremy Sisto), with whom May falls haplessly, and unrequitedly, in love.

Those influenced by the poster art may go into May expecting more of a surly goth-horror anthem than it is. This is a horror movie only in the sense that, say, Secretary was a romance. In both, damaged and self-hating young women find something that works for them, though in May's case it involves something much darker and bloodier than Maggie Gyllenhaal's comparatively sunny journey. Most of the movie is about feeling left out and undesirable, and though we're in May's corner at the beginning, when she makes her sweetly gawky moves on Adam and gives herself over to the heady process of considering herself worthy of loving and being loved, May passes a certain point beyond which we really can't go with her. Her obsessive, needy behavior becomes painful to watch. Like Taxi Driver, the movie locks us in with the main character and then forces us to watch her unstoppable psychological decline.

Consider the odd "romantic triangle" May finds herself part of. She loves Adam, who thinks of her as a strangely alluring potential partner, but no more than that (a horror fan, particularly taken with the work of Dario Argento, Adam "likes weird" and finds May interesting more or less on that basis alone, until she gets too weird). She acquiesces to same-sex contact with the lascivious Polly, but Polly doesn't really love her either -- she's all too ready to toss May over for a hotter chick if one should present herself. There's no chance of security in either of these relationships, but May, accustomed to being alone, pursues them (or goes along with them) possibly because she's grateful for any attention. When she's rejected, May turns herself into the cold-eyed goth of the poster art, and Angela Bettis' transformation from fumbly geek girl to self-assured, smooth-talking murderer is startling. We look at her now, with sharp object in hand, and find almost no trace of the old, hapless May.

Lucky McKee writes and directs all of this with an unemphatic straightforwardness that tells us this material is no big deal to him -- on some level, he's lived it (for instance, the press materials inform us that he, too, had a lazy eye). Though it goes for all-out gorehound style near the end (most unfortunately in a scene involving the scissor death of a doofy punk guy named Blank, played by James Duval, once again getting killed by a troubled misfit as in Donnie Darko), its heart remains in the convulsions of mind, not flesh. It takes its obsessive cues less from Argento (name-checked several times here) than from David Cronenberg, and indeed, watching the film, I thought to myself, This is what Carrie might have played like if Cronenberg directed it -- less bombastic and gory than creepy and upsetting. May proves that fresh new work can be done in the horror genre if the director follows his or her own shadowy muse rather than tries consciously to fashion the next big thing in horror.

And Angela Bettis' performance, a true brave oddity that dares to beg our sympathy and dares even more to trash it, is so on-the-money that it makes me want to catch her in that "Carrie" remake. I daresay, though, that the remake will preserve less of the downtrodden flavor of Stephen King's book than this lesser-known little gem. The "Carrie" remake smells like an attempt to pour old wine into a hip new bottle; "May" is the real thing.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=5750&reviewer=416
originally posted: 12/26/06 17:23:36
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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.

User Comments

11/10/11 matthew thompson dalldorf One of the best movies I have ever seen! 5 stars
8/17/09 Tony So. incredibly. good. creepiest movie ive seen in a while. 5 stars
3/16/09 Josie Cotton is a goddess uite possibly 5 stars
2/02/09 Lee "Actually, I kinda liked it, Do me again" 5 stars
8/29/08 Shaun Wallner The storyline is well made! 5 stars
5/19/08 BJ Love this unique movie. Had to own it. 5 stars
5/18/08 Ambrosia Angela Bettis, te amo!!! Come here! 5 stars
5/10/08 mr.mike Effective , however I thought "Romeo" was better 4 stars
6/20/07 Spook one of the best independent films ever! 5 stars
5/23/07 Ted R Brilliant....twisted.....haunting 5 stars
5/08/07 Andy B who would not like this movie? 5 stars
5/05/07 gen sad and intriguing. the character study on this is really good 5 stars
4/17/07 Kyle_S i just saw this movie, and it was really different...in a good way 5 stars
4/11/07 sara it was funny and tragic and the actors were great 5 stars
3/26/07 fools♫goldÖ Scared if being scared 5 stars
3/17/07 Siren angela bettis is great in this movie! 5 stars
3/06/07 Succubus_Incubus The best movie ever made! Yeah. 5 stars
12/14/06 T. McGregor A quirky, character driven horror movie with a nasty, sad ending. Long live May! 5 stars
11/14/06 Morbidica A great horror story, with a tragic end and lusty twists 5 stars
11/12/06 Dark Enchantress Beautifully grotesque! 5 stars
11/09/06 Jason great director, great plot, totally unique! 5 stars
11/09/06 DarkEnchantress My fav. movie...disturbing...how i love them! 5 stars
10/21/06 AJ Muller Angela Bettis is something special; so is the flick-sad/funny/creepy, an eye-opening winner 5 stars
10/09/06 Pritchett Complete garbage. I question the sanity of those who call it a masterpiece. Please... 1 stars
7/01/06 Jambi Truly one of the stupidest and most pointless movies I've ever seen. A total eye-roller. 1 stars
5/17/06 Cherita Black It is a masterpiece!!!! I've been wainting for something like it forever! It's my favorite. 5 stars
8/16/05 bujene everyone should watch it carefully there are important messages 4 stars
12/04/04 K. Sear A brave attempt but it fell short. Not terrible but could be beter. 3 stars
11/14/04 psycho black dwarf where others settle for Photoshop-doctored pictures, May needs the real thing. 4 stars
11/07/04 jack an unrealistic film with a good ending 3 stars
10/24/04 Me A great film 5 stars
8/27/04 whatevr pygmolean meets frankenstein 4 stars
7/25/04 Find The Keys For a horror flick, this is quite good (I must admit)...for a horror flick (that is). 3 stars
7/07/04 Denise Duspiva odd 3 stars
5/13/04 mark louis baumgart The last third is pretty good, but, man, it takes frigging FOREVER to get there. 3 stars
5/02/04 Me A great film 5 stars
4/25/04 Denise Duspiva Avante Garde 4 stars
4/16/04 Michael Greenwaldt MAY is A-MAY-ZING! Smart, touching, and wonderfully weird! Bettis & Faris are GREAT! 5 stars
3/29/04 Kristen Ankiewicz Unbelievably great performances 5 stars
3/19/04 true review weird in a cool way, good lead performance, tongue in cheek gore, Amelie if she were insane 4 stars
12/09/03 re A GREAT FILM 5 stars
12/01/03 malcolm hard for me to recommend but i couldnt turn away.if u liked 'may' see polanski's 'repulsion 3 stars
11/26/03 he A GREAT FILM 5 stars
10/19/03 Jim Sad tale of lonely misfit. Had no idea Anna Faris was that hot, either. 5 stars
10/17/03 Jon An instant cult classic. Not for all tastes, but those who'll love it will REALLY love it! 5 stars
10/09/03 Erik Van Sant Disturbing and disgustingly hilarious. McKee...welcome to the genre. 5 stars
10/05/03 sneaker Whoever directed this should go back to shooting commercials. Please. 2 stars
9/30/03 Redpajammas a great film 5 stars
9/22/03 Alice It was not all that to me, expected more 3 stars
9/14/03 Alton Robertson Worth seeing for the ending alone. Superb creepy salted with black comedy. 4 stars
8/31/03 Connie Theil A poignant, touching tale of about the loneliness and madness of a young girl. 5 stars
8/29/03 Albie Great strange erotic scene with Bettis and Faris 4 stars
8/22/03 nr great 5 stars
8/01/03 grimthall the black this movie sucks 2 stars
7/16/03 Mike May is an extremely disturbing movie in all the right ways. A true thriller. A great movie. 5 stars
7/15/03 Kyle Incredible. Damn, I wish I saw this in theaters. Lucky McKee is destined for great things. 5 stars
7/14/03 Ellen Willis Is a perfect film from the unhappy girls than became to found a love finally. 5 stars
6/29/03 Jay didnt like 1 stars
6/28/03 Chicago Wolf The Best Movie of the Year. Bettis is great and Anna Faris is unbelievable. 5 stars
6/09/03 george schmidt A truly creepy/funny horror flick a la "Carrie" and then some 5 stars
6/09/03 Caiphn Angelis Bettis is a great actress. Creepy flick! 4 stars
5/30/03 Jon Leroux Wow. I'm not sure whether I should cry like crazy or scream in absolute horror. 5 stars
2/21/03 Lynz incredibly funny, i couldn't stop giggling, good girl/girl action 3 stars
2/21/03 Darren Shea Creepy, creepy film. Angela Bettis is phenomenal. 5 stars
2/15/03 bob twisted, indeed 5 stars
12/06/02 BAM great 5 stars
11/12/02 Andrew Carden It's Creepy How Perfect This Film Is. Just Plain Old Fun. 5 stars
7/11/02 Chris My new favorite flick 5 stars
7/09/02 cerise A truly unforgettable movie watching experience.you must see it for yourself to appreciate 5 stars
7/01/02 Burn Matthews great movie..fucking awsome..greatest lines ive heard in a while.. 5 stars
5/28/02 neonjazz I like it very much! Creepy yet absolutely enjoyable! 5 stars
5/11/02 Andrew Duncan gREAT! Fun, gruesome and sort of touching. Great Music, too! 5 stars
4/29/02 JBrown Beautifully Twisted!!! 5 stars
4/21/02 Kevin May is a cleverly written, touching story that will fill you with laughs and gasps. 4 stars
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  06-Jun-2003 (R)
  DVD: 17-Aug-2004



Directed by
  Lucky McKee

Written by
  Lucky McKee

  Angela Bettis
  Jeremy Sisto
  Anna Faris
  Merle Kennedy
  Will Estes
  Mike McKee

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