Coming off a screening of Evil Dead, I was excited to see if the coming movie, May (2002), was going to be just as good. I did my usual due diligence before coming into class, checking out how the film’s Tomato score and consensus in Rotten Tomatoes. On the site, the film got a 69% score, with a consensus of “Above average slasher flick.” After a quick glance at these comments, I could not contain my excitement to see such an averagely-rated horror film. Electricity started rushing through my veins once I saw the comment on the movie’s main poster write, “One of the Best Films of the Year!”
Sarcastic comments aside, after watching the film, the critic reviews (and not the energy from the main poster) are exactly how I feel about the film. Average. Nothing special, just a great, nuanced acting job from its characters in what is a very odd film with odd characters. Angela Bettis did a great job of portraying May, a sheltered, outcast character who was nothing short of social-awkwardness. I would release a giggle from time-to-time because of how much of an oddball this character was; what made it funnier was how absurd her actions would be as she tried flirting with Adam Stubbs (Jeremy Sisto). Whether it be the hand-on-face feeling, or the fixation of body parts, you would really get weirded out by May. Much of these feelings can be credited to the aforementioned character, who really made the audience feel May’s creepiness.
One odd feature of May’s character that I tried to understand was her homosexuality. Throughout the film, although majority of the scenes would be May trying to chase Adam in weird ways, there would be some scenes which shows her inclination towards the same sex. There would be times where she would succumb to her extremely flirtatious female co-worker, Polly (Anna Faris). Perhaps this could be a response to her situation as a social outcast, as growing up, her only friend was a doll named Suzie that her mom passed on to her. This was attributed to her having a lazy eye, which is a condition that made her schoolmates shy away from her. It was never shown exactly in the film when her inclinations towards the female progressed or started, but there is a chance that it started with Polly. Maybe, Polly was the first person that actually wanted to be friends with May. It just so happened that Polly wanted to do more with May than to be friends with her. From here, May’s disposition may have changed, as she started liking being desired by Polly, thereby changing her sexual orientation to the gender that actually cared about her.
Another possibility is that this could be director Lucky Mckee’s way to build up May as the villain of the film. According to Harry Benshoff’s article entitled, “The monster and the homosexual,” homosexuals in horror films have always had a negative connotation. They have had a vampire-like characteristic in them in that once they have sex with you, they pass on a virus, AIDS, just like how vampires infect innocent people once then suck your blood and mix it with theirs. On top of this, they are an anomaly to the status quo. They are irregular, the complete opposite to the heterosexual, who most of the audience identifies with. Putting these two elements combined creates some sort of glitch in the matrix; it results in homosexuals being placed in the “bad” side of the movie. May’s homosexuality is an irregularity to the norm, and maybe this was done by McKee in order for the audience to identify her as the film’s actual monster.
Her monstrous nature came in the form of her obsession of body parts, as well as creating a friend or partner that would come to accept her and be her friend. After she was dumped by the person she had fallen in love with, Jeremy, she went on this rampage. Her story can be relatable to those of Walton and Victor Frankenstein, in the story of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. As said in the article of Paol O’Flinn, the two are “…obsessed by the urge to discover and both pursue that obsession, enticed by the possibility of ‘immortality and power’ that success would bring.” This is very much similar to the story of May, as she wanted to create a “friend” that would perpetually be by her side. She would go as far as not to just kill people in order to harvest the ideal body parts she wanted, but to even gouge out her own eye in order for her creation to “see” her. Her pursuit for this lifetime companion as a result of her repression and sheltered nature growing up yielded positive results to her and a happy(?) ending for the film’s viewers.
In film’s final scene, she got what she wanted, albeit at the expense of her eye. But, we can even say this is a victory for her, as the very thing that was holding her back – her lazy eye – was that which gave her ultimate satisfaction in the end.
Janovich, M. (2002). Horror, The Film Reader. London: Routledge.