May becomes a modern day Prometheus, living by the adage that if she can’t find friends, why not make them? Writer/Director Lucky McKee stitches this tale of loneliness and despair from a feminist perspective but it’s Angela Bettis as the titular femme fatale that breathes life into the film. The editing is first-rate utilizing foreshadowing as one particular scene makes sense only upon the film’s final act, yet it lingers during May’s character arc and we wonder if it is merely a sadistic fantasy. Interestingly enough, Rion Johnson, who would go on to direct BRICK, LOOPER, KNIVES OUT and a tepid chapter of Disney’s Star Wars, is one of the editors and his creative force is evident in the tapestry-like quality of this sewn-together narrative.
The First Act reveals May’s lonely childhood and her disability: a lazy eye that keeps her at the bottom of the social hierarchy. She develops a bond with a special doll whose large blue eyes witness her life from within a glass cabinet, a supportive friend (or fiend?) who whispers at the edge of her reason. Now an adult and working at an animal hospital, May crushes on Adam, a local Artist with beautiful hands and is also seduced by her feminine cohort Polly, a flirtatious girl with a beautiful neck. Soon, all goes to Hell as May is subsumed by the fiendish figurine and begins to construct her only true friend from the parts of others around her! The Final Act is brutal and unflinching yet, because of the previous insight into May’s character, becomes quite sad and touching too. The brilliance of the film is in Angela Bettis’ performance as May, in portraying her uncomfortable shyness and naivete in a believable and pure fashion. May is quite pretty, yet doesn’t see herself that way, stuck in the skewed perspective of her own self-worth. Fuck, can’t we all relate? As she tries to express her feelings and connect with relationships, she is spurned and further isolated. To the film’s credit it doesn’t sell-out it’s male characters as toxically masculine, they are three-dimensional and complex like May. Adam gets the most screen time and he isn’t a bad dude, he breaks-up with May for good reason and isn’t unkind to her even after she practically bites his lip off! Both he and May could better communicate but the film doesn’t judge either one which makes the denouement both poetic and sad.
MAY walks the thin bloody line between horror and camp as the final act is over-the-top bloodshed and gore as body parts are excised and sutured. May even plucks out her own eye so her grisly creation can see. Ultimately, all May wants is to be seen and recognized, to be part of the world from which she has been exorcised. And her desires are met with a gentle loving touch.
Final Grade: (B+)