When it comes to horror films, there are 3 things that will always get me scared, namely snakes, blood, and creepy dolls. That’s why when I found out that the next movie that we were going to watch, May (2002), had a creepy doll, I completely lost my cool. After watching Chucky and Annabelle, I wanted no part in any other doll related film. However this wasn’t necessarily the case with May. Although May (Angela Bettis) did have a doll named Suzie and yes she was pretty creepy, I was really disappointed by how the film went. It reminded me more of a romance-drama than a horror film. The movie may have had an opportunity to mess with the audience a little bit and have a freak plot twist in the end, but the ending was more weird than horrifying.
However, upon reading Paul O’Flinn’s article, Production and Reproduction: The Case of Frankenstein, is it possible that my assumptions and wants for the film can be related to what the story of Frankenstein has undergone? According to the article, O’Flinn mentioned that the Frankenstein film had rather different themes compared to its source material. “at its moment of production Frankenstein, in an oblique way, was in touch with central tensions and contradictions in industrial society and only by seeing it in those terms can the prodigious efforts made over the last century and a half to alter and realign the work and its meanings be understood.” Could my negative response to May just be because of my present understanding and expectation of things like films and not because of the film itself?
Casual viewers like myself always stick to what we already do know. There is this given expectation that when something isn’t the same as what we expected it to be, we automatically shame and think badly of it. I generally thought that a movie that deals with dolls, having watched Chucky and Annabelle, would without a doubt creep the hell out of me. For Frankenstein, people generally focus too much on the fact that a monster was created that they don’t see the importance of knowing the story’s true intentions.
In one way or another, this perfectly describes the protagonist and antagonist May. Ever since she was a child, she has already been scrutinized and made fun of because of her personality and because of lazy eye. This caused her to lean solely on her only “friend” Suzie. Because of her individualistic personality, she doesn’t know how to deal with social interactions, let alone flirting with a guy. Her unique behavior is something that is not normal, especially for the eyes of everyone who doesn’t know her yet, that is why there are numerous instances wherein May is misunderstood, judged, and ridiculed about. From her weird attraction to body parts to her equally weird liking for blood and gore, May has constantly lived her life being shamed and teased by others who don’t necessarily understand where she is coming from. This has led to a nervous breakdown of some sorts that causes her to actually second guess what she does and why she does it. I would say that because of how the people around her treated her and judged her personality and way of doing things, this is the trigger that sent her into insanity and completely changing her entire persona from shy and misunderstood May to fierce and ruthless May.
Now looking back at the movie, what I really did like about the movie is the aspect of the doll. Not Suzie, but the concept of creating a doll. One of the more famous quotes of the film is something May’s mom said to her growing up: “If you can’t find a friend, make one.” I really liked the fact that this was suppose to tell the audience that Suzie would have a big role in the entire film then it turned out that May would actually have the opportunity to make a friend for herself using different body parts from the people she killed. It was interesting that for the film, from start to end, always goes back to May creating a completely new person/doll/friend that understands her and that will never leave her side. The slight twist that at the end the doll actually moves and becomes “real” is all the more shocking. Maybe it was just her imagination or maybe it was reality, either way this is the life May wants to live and the company that she wants to have and she is more than willing to do whatever it takes just to get someone to like her.
Paul O’Flinn, “Production and Reproduction: The Case of Frankenstein.” Horror, The Film Reader (Routledge, 2002)