May (film)

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May
May (movie poster).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byLucky McKee
Produced by
  • Marius Balchunas
  • Scott Sturgeon
Written byLucky McKee
Starring
Music byJaye Barnes Luckett
CinematographySteve Yedlin
Edited by
Production
company
2 Loop Films
Distributed byLions Gate Films
Release date
  • January 13, 2002 (2002-01-13) (Sundance)
  • February 7, 2003 (2003-02-07) (United States)
Running time
93 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$1.7 million[2]
Box office$634,803[2]

May is a 2002 American psychological horror film written and directed by Lucky McKee[3] in his directorial debut. Starring Angela Bettis, Jeremy Sisto, Anna Faris, and James Duval, the film follows a lonely young woman (Bettis) traumatized by a difficult childhood, and her increasingly desperate attempts to connect with the people around her.

Although May was unsuccessful at the box office, it received favorable reviews from critics, and is now considered a cult film.[4]

Plot[edit]

May Dove Canady is a 28-year-old woman, who suffered from a troubled childhood due to her lazy eye. She has very few social interactions, her only "true friend" being a glass-encased doll named Suzie made by her mother and given to May for her birthday with the adage "If you can't find a friend, make one." May works at a veterinary hospital, assisting with surgeries. Her optometrist fixes May's lazy eye, first with glasses, then with contact lens. May becomes friends with Adam, a local mechanic. She has a fixation on his hands, which she considers to be the most attractive part of him, and they start dating. May's lesbian colleague, Polly, begins to flirt with May. One day, May remarks that Polly has a beautiful neck. They become friends, and Polly gives her a pet cat, Lupe.

May invites Adam to her apartment and he shows her a film that he made for his university titled Jack and Jill. The film reveals a story of two young lovers, who go on a picnic, and end up eating each other. May becomes aroused by the cannibalism in the film. During an intense make-out session, she bites Adam on the lip, and it bleeds. Disturbed by her suspicious behavior, Adam abruptly leaves. May shouts at Suzie and shoves her in the cupboard. She begins volunteering at a school for blind children. She gives in to Polly's wishes and starts a short affair. Adam stops calling her and May overhears him say that he is glad he could get rid of her. Heartbroken, she visits Polly, and finds her with another girl named Ambrosia. When even Lupe refuses to come near her, May becomes enraged and kills Lupe. She becomes delusional, and believes that Suzie is talking to her.

May takes Suzie to school and tells the blind children that Suzie is her best friend. The children struggle to take the doll out of the glass case, and the case shatters. May and the children are cut by the broken glass. Scooping up the ruined doll, May returns home devastated. The following day, she meets a punk boy named Blank. He asks her if she wants to get some candy with him, and she accepts. May does not admire him very much, but likes the tattoo on his arm. At her house, Blank finds the cat's corpse, and calls May a freak. In retaliation, May stabs Blank in the head, killing him. After putting much thought into her future actions, May claims she needs ”more parts.”

On Halloween night, May dresses in a homemade costume resembling Suzie, adopts a normal personality, and goes to Polly's house. As Polly sits on the floor in between May’s legs, who is holding two surgical scalpels, May quietly murders her by slitting Polly's throat. When Ambrosia arrives, May admires her legs. Ambrosia insults May and does a twirl for her at May’s request, who then stabs Ambrosia in the temples of her head. Next, she visits Adam and his new girlfriend Hoop at his house. May watches them embrace each other and has taken a liking to Hoop’s ears. She murders both of them with the surgical scalps. At home, she designs her "new friend", Amy (an anagram of her own name), a life-sized patchwork doll made from Blank's arms, Polly's neck, Adam's hands, Ambrosia's legs, and Hoop's ears. She uses Lupe's fur for the hair. The head and torso are stuffed fabric stitched together. May realizes that Amy has no eyes, and cannot "see" her, so she gouges out her lazy eye, fatally injuring herself. Crying in pain and bleeding, she puts her eye on Amy's head and begs the doll to look at her. She collapses dead on the bed beside the doll, and caresses it. Her creation comes to life, and brushes her face affectionately with Adam's hands.

Cast[edit]

Soundtrack[edit]

May also features a score and original songs by Jaye Barnes Luckett of the rock group Poperratic (then known as Alien Tempo Experiment 13).

Additional artists on the soundtrack include The Breeders, The Kelley Deal 6000, H Is Orange, Strangels, Thrill My Wife, The Wedding's Off, Angelo Metz, and Tommy James and the Shondells.

Some of Luckett's music from the film was released on the 2007 CD May and Other Selected Works of Jaye Barnes Luckett by La-La Land Records.

Release[edit]

May was given a limited theatrical release to nine theaters in North America. By the end of its run, the film has grossed $150,277 during its theatrical run.[5] It eventually grossed $634,803 worldwide on its $1.7 million budget.[2]

Critical reception[edit]

The film received favorable reviews from critics. Review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports that 68% of 66 critics have given the film a positive review, with a rating average of 6.08 out of 10. The site's critical consensus states that it is an "above average slasher flick."[6] On Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film received an average score of 58 based on 18 reviews.[7]

Critics praised the film for its unique feel while also complimenting its brutality through the eyes of someone who is so caught up in their own fantasy of sorts. Bettis' performance was also praised. Roger Ebert granted the film four stars out of four, and called it "a horror film and something more and deeper, something disturbing and oddly moving" and characterized the denouement as "a final shot that would get laughs in another kind of film, but May earns the right to it, and it works, and we understand it".[8] Variety magazine critic David Rooney turned in a review that was more middle of the road, stating that the film was "More successful when the title character finally embarks on her bloody mission than in the dawdling buildup".[9] The New York Times critic Stephen Holden opined that "the performances are a cut or two above what you would find in the average slasher film. But in the end that's all it is".[10]

In 2006, the Chicago Film Critics Association named May the 61st scariest film ever made.[11]

Bloody Disgusting ranked the film #17 in their list of the 'Top 20 Horror Films of the Decade', with the article calling the film "criminally under-seen at the time of its release... The plotting itself manages to sidestep the usual slasher tropes as it slowly and inexorably unravels, all leading up to a quietly haunting conclusion that is as heart-wrenching as it is unnerving."[12]

Awards[edit]

Inspiration[edit]

Lucky McKee has stated that "May wouldn't exist if it weren't for Amanda Plummer's character in The Fisher King."[13]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "May (18)". British Board of Film Classification. June 13, 2003. Retrieved April 20, 2018. The BBFC classification is for video, meaning it includes 4% PAL speed-up.
  2. ^ a b c "May (2003) - Financial Information". The Numbers. Retrieved July 7, 2019.
  3. ^ 00's Retrospect: Bloody Disgusting's Top 20 Films of the Decade...
  4. ^ Tobias, Scott. "May". AV Club. Retrieved May 3, 2013.
  5. ^ "May (2003)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 9, 2011.
  6. ^ "May (2002)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved May 10, 2019.
  7. ^ "May Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved July 9, 2011.
  8. ^ Ebert, Roger (June 6, 2003). "May ::rogerebert.com :: Reviews". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved July 9, 2011.
  9. ^ Rooney, David (June 15, 2002). "May Review". Variety. Retrieved July 9, 2011.
  10. ^ Holden, Stephen (June 6, 2003). "Movie Review - May". The New York Times. Retrieved July 9, 2011.
  11. ^ Filmspotting.net Archived January 17, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ "00's Retrospect: Bloody Disgusting's Top 20 Films of the Decade...Part 4". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved January 3, 2010.
  13. ^ McKee, Lucky (July 21, 2015). "Lucky McKee on Twitter". Retrieved August 17, 2015.

External links[edit]