May was a very unconventional horror film. The protagonist was an awkward girl by the name of May who had eye problems as a child and so grew up not having much or any friends for that matter. As a child she was given a doll in a glass case by her mother where her mother stated something along the lines of “if you don’t have friends,just make one”. Which would end up being really important during the latter half of the film.
I guess it was conventional firstly because the creepy protagonist was female. Normally the awkward protagonist who goes insane is male with some sort of family issue, take for example Norman Bates from Psycho and his intense mommy issues. It is conventionally scarier if the creep or a psycho in the film is a male protagonist but the film May used a female one and it felt just as creepy. Next thing you would have to notice about the film is despite using a doll to set the theme there is very little use of the doll to move the plot further along, the doll is only used for symbolic meaning and for setting a theme of the horror movie.
Now looking more into May the protagonist of the movie, May is a tragic character. She is definitely not normal compared to the rest of the world largely due to the isolation she went through as a child. It’s not to say that she is incapable of being normal or that there is something innately wrong with her but she doesn’t understand socially acceptable behavior and has a hard time grasping the social norms. Take for example how she flirts and how she kisses a guy and ends up biting her lip until it bleeds. May despite seeming to be a very smart character is also very socially awkward and lacks the tools for basic interaction with other people. Take for example her weird fetishes. Over the course of the film May fetishizes and obsesses over people and specific parts of their body she finds to be attractive. In this regard she possesses the power of the gaze and is the one objectifying characters and seeing them only as the body parts she admires in them. This fetish of May’s however seems to be bisexual and she doesn’t choose or seem to have any specific preference with the gender of the one wielding these body parts.
May does her fair share of horrible things throughout the movie, including killing several people and hacking off their dead bodies to get body parts she desires. Yet despite doing so, the viewer doesn’t feel pure anger or disgust with the character of May. She is a character that one also feels pity for because she seems to be unaware of what she is doing. Throughout the film, May doesn’t seem to have or feel any guilt towards her action. As I have said before she is not normal in that sense that she doesn’t get social norms, taken to the extreme and that may even be not feeling anything despite having already killed people.
Towards the end of the movie May makes a living doll using the body parts that she finds attractive from the people she had encountered and later killed and even gives this living doll her eye. I find this significant in the argument that May really may not be aware that what she is doing is bad as she is also unafraid to harm herself to contribute to her doll. Making her character one that garners the viewer’s sympathy. The film also chooses to go more in depth with the villain/ tragic hero, (which would have to be May) than her victims. We see the day to day life of May and how lonely she is and isolated from everybody else. She seems to have no contact with her family and has no friends to speak of, aside from her coworker who just seems to occasionally flirts with her. Going this in depth to the life of the character that would be considered a villain is a good move in making them seem more human. After watching May’s life, her insanity becomes more understandable.
Finally what may be scariest about May is how she objectifies people in the literal sense. They are not humans to her but more of just parts for her doll. She possesses the gaze and has the power to see people as how she wants to see them, which for her happens to be as people with desirable body parts that can contribute to her doll. The film goes full circle here and she literally creates a friend of her own out of what she deemed desirable from everybody else outside. This could symbolize that May is not ready to interact with people from the outside as she can not take people for what they are and only want selective parts of their being. She wants her new friend to be perfect and so only takes the “perfect” or desirable parts of the people around her. Ultimately why May had no qualms about killing other people may be that from her lack of exposure with people that she no longer sees them as people. She just sees them as parts to make a “perfect” doll or a “perfect friend” and not as unique individuals with dreams and lives of their own.