The Monster in May

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May was such a peculiar movie.

Seeing as though it wanted to depict this disturbingly awkward and eerie character, I think the film was successful in making its audience feel unsettled. If in most movies, we notice the creepy factors of the film in flashing neon signs like for example in a psychopath or in gore, in May, we see it characterized in a character one would end up feeling sympathy for. We knew from the very beginning that May had  a problematic upbringing. Her mother had this very iconic line which is more or less saying that May needed to “make” her own friends if she cannot find real ones. This dictates whatever else kind of interaction, amiss social cues, and personality May would have towards her journey as a growing adult. She seems to find comfort in the same doll given to her by her mother which is enclosed in a glass case. From this point on, we start to feel sorry for May as even as a child, she could not grasp fully what her condition would be doing to limit her social interaction. Instead of getting their child the therapy and briefing she might have needed in order to understand her condition and to socialize well with others, she was just given a bandaid solution that unfortunately carried over to her adult years.

Although we see may as a capable adult who does her job well, we also see how impaired she still is as a social creature. We see her try her best to interact with her coworkers or passersby but she ends up hurt if others don’t become as understanding. In the end, she is found to be fascinated by the body parts of those around her because maybe that’s just how she can feel or talk comfortably around those people. I think it is very hard to portray such a complex character so I really applaud the actress who had given life to May. We all seem to be able to think of one person in our high school class who might end up having the same personality as May if we were to put the quirks at a larger extent. And often, they are outcasted by the entire class. This is discussed in a number of readings since “the other” may very well be the outcasted, the weird, the socially inept, not because they choose to be but because they are not supplied with the necessary skills to do so. They are at a disadvantage because sometimes they do not choose to be this way, as with her condition.

This is what makes the finale of the movie so much more satisfying. The moment May had adorned herself with the same attire her broken doll had worn, she went into full on go-getter mode. I could feel everyone in the classroom excited about what she is about to do with her sudden change in stance. I find this satisfying feeling similar to what I felt when the formerly utilized Mia in Evil Dead finally gets her revenge on the “monster” who killed all her friends. May goes on this psychotic pilgrimage in order to gather the dismembered body parts she needed in order to make her own friend.

After watching the film, I felt a mix of repulsion and sympathy for the character because even after all the crazy lengths she took in order to make her “friend”, and thus, killing people in the process, we also note that this act was simply within her logic that she only wanted a real friend. A friend who will not make fun of her idiosyncrasies. We see how she wanted to please Adam by copying the film he made. All of her actions are in order to make her lasting relationships, something she never acquired outside her family members.

I think the film really tries to tell its audience that there might be people we encounter that we do not fully understand, resulting in them being outcasted. It is a lesson on how easily we could misinterpret someone’s actions without understanding where they are coming from.

Even at the very end, May tried to give a part of herself to her “doll” in order for it to feel like a true relational interaction.

May(be)

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I’ve been an enthusiast of the film line up for this COM class and May did not baffle. I was anticipating that it should be gorier on account of the movie poster yet I truly preferred entire storyline. It helped me to remember the book I read and the film I viewed, Coraline. Additionally the films I watched like Perfume and Frankenstein.

May an ungainly young lady in her late twenties land caught in a position she is not as so passionate about. She discovers herself being mistaken for what she feels for Paul the person she is pulverizing on and having blended contemplations about her sexuality with Polly her co-worker. At first, I thought May did not have any chance with Paul since she gave off an impression of being such a stalker and he found her holding his hand. It gave me a lighter vibe when they began dating and gradually unfurling their normal oddness together. Something was going on for May and she was really demonstrating more emotions contrasted with the start of the film. When she began getting more unusual Paul says a final farewell to her and this set off her character. I figure as it were she understood she couldn’t have what she loves until the end. Her instability became much more. She resorts conversing with her doll Suzie whom she supposes is her best friend. The way May converses with Suzie is as though she was alive. May appeared as though she esteemed the “conclusions” of Suzie a great deal – as though the doll was in charge. The monster was forming in May through the control of Suzie.

The scenes revolved around May finding her and getting caught with the thought of losing herself. I like how the film takes you to May’s world, the way she slowly interacted with the characters, and the way she showed her feelings towards situations made the viewers curious of what was going inside her head.

Towards the middle of the film May demonstrates the forceful side of her, which developed and developed towards the end. I figure May is the sort to not acknowledge things when they are not going her direction. She believed was what going ahead with her and Polly is her shot on something however it didn’t end so well. I likewise saw her fixation in certain body parts of the general population she connected with that additional the “odd element” in her character. May is exceptionally attentive despite the fact that she is conceived with a sluggish eye – she gets a kick out of the chance to look or even gaze. This side of her for me demonstrates that gazing goes past simply looking. It is possible that she needed her body to appear to be identical or the body part to appear to be identical. Maybe weakness? Interest?

As the film unfolds, May’s fetish grew. I also noticed how the director adjusted the framing of the movie. It was more on eye-level and was more focused on the features of the characters and the background is secondary. The colors remained dimmed but the soundtrack remained – gave a hipster and country vibe.

Overall, I would recommend this movie. It is far from the films I watched. It is weird yet intriguing, slow yet startling. I like how all characters are highlighted from the lead to the supporting actors. Everyone played a roll that affected the viewers’ view of the main character. I like how the movie unfolded slowly to further highlight how the main character, May is. The overall theme matched the storyline. Not a MAY(be) but a must watch!

Young at Heart

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[Warning: Contains mild spoilers]

Amidst many struggles and hardships of the adult life, to be young at heart (or having a energetic, childlike approach to life) is a characteristic that most people often look up to. People who are like these tend to have a positive approach in life, taking risks, making bold choices, and generally approaching life head-on. Although this characteristic is a positive one, some people also tend to be the opposite – that which blurs the line between being more childish than childlike, and this may prove problematic to a whole lot of people.

These are the grounds in which the film May (dir. Lucky McKee, 2002) navigates around. In the film, we meet the titular character May, who is socially awkward and was brought up to be that way because of her lazy eye. Since she is othered from the very beginning; as a child, her mother gives her the advice “If you can’t make a friend, make one,” and in turn also gives her her childhood ‘friend,’ the doll named Suzie.

This set-up for me, at first, led me to believe that the narrative would involve yet another one of those ‘doll goes to life’ tropes ala Chuckie or Anabelle, but what what the film instead became was all sorts of wacky, eccentric, and deliciously fun. The scenes in the film may have been too awkward to handle for many, but I personally liked how May (as a character and the film itself)’s eccentricity made it very unique and interesting. Her characterization was one of the best things to come out of the film, carefully and meticulously crafted, planned in a way that gives her transformation from awkward girl in the beginning to the ‘monster’ that she became at the end of it. There were a lot of small tidbits that made this all the more meaningful, such as May’s fixation on body parts, dolls, and how those small things came together to create a grand narrative of ‘redemption’ for the character in the end.

Plenty of the childlike attributes that May showed can are actually supported by theories presented in Harry Benshoff’s The Monster and the Homosexual, and Paul O’ Flinn’s Production and Reproduction. What stands out among all of May’s childlike, or even childish attitudes are that of her fascination with the idea of being in love. She clearly did not have many experiences in terms of relationships, both in friendships and romantic relationships, with other people given the weird way in which she acts. And because of this, she struggles her way as she interacts with new people (like Adam and Polly) on this level, eventually feeling hurt in the process and leading to her transformation into a Dr. Frankenstein-like character. Although traces of actual homosexuality are seen in the film, as may ‘experiments’ or tries to be in a relationship with her colleague Polly, the queerness in the film goes beyond just the homosexual act. Her queerness, in this case, is more in relation to her weird disposition in life, being far from a normal person – making her an other that people don’t quite understand, and therefore villainize. This, as Benshoff suggests, shows the interaction between the concepts of homosexuality/queerness and monstrosity, as clearly depicted in the film.

Furthermore, we can see in this queerness and monstrosity how O’Flinn identifies the monster created by Frankenstein in the classic story. He describes Shelly’s work by saying that “the monster’s eventual life of violence and revenge is the direct product of his social circumstances.” And that is exactly the case for May. Much of her struggles are associated with how society has treated her for being an outcast, and that in turn leads her to be the ‘violent’ person by the last act of the film. For May, there is certainly a desire to be loved and accepted by the people around her, but with her [boy]friend Adam telling her “you f*cking freak! I’m not gonna be your friend,” she was clearly disappointed and triggered. At one point, she even tells Amy, her creation, “All I want is for you to see me,” and that really shows her desperation, to the point of her removing her own eye.

Personally, I found it quite difficult to villainize May and even treat her as a monster. To a point, I could relate to her in a sense that I am very childlike, having an interest in collecting figurines, with these figurines meaning a lot to me. It does hurt when people disregard the things that you care for and worked hard to collect, and so the struggles that May went through actually made sense. It’s not saying that I would go to the extremes of literally cutting people off when I get disappointed, but May’s characterization really allows for the audience to resonate and empathize with her.

In the end, May is still a girl, still very very young at heart. And this makes her susceptible to the childish things one can do, such as doing whatever she wants and not thinking of the consequences. She only wants to be loved, but the situation she has found herself in gave her no choice but to make someone to genuinely love her back. After all, her mother did give her that advice.

References:

Harry M. Benshoff, “The Monster and the Homosexual.” Horror, The Film Reader (Routledge, 2002).
Paul O’Flinn, “Production and Reproduction: The Case of Frankenstein.” Horror, The Film Reader (Routledge, 2002).

 

DisMAY

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For the first hour of the movie, one wouldn’t think that May was a horror film. It starts quite normal; it portrays a socially awkward girl trying to figure out relationships and such. However, as the film progressed the vibe of the film gets a creepier and creepier. And this all escalates to point where May kills people and creates her “perfect” friend. Admittedly, There were a few other creepy moments, however, they were so sporadic that the climax would still be such a “woah” moment. Other than this, the film May tackles other interesting concepts such as homosexuality in horror films.

May was the first movie that I’ve seen a character that was attracted towards a homosexual and a heterosexual relationship. These 2 relationships were portrayed quite differently from each other. The homosexual relationship was portrayed as very sexual and lustful. This could be because it is playing on the usual stereotype of lesbians, which is that lesbian relationships are fast and very sexual. In comparison, however,  the homosexual relationship was portrayed as something sweet and of depth. Instead of heavy flirting (as shown by the lesbian in the film), the heterosexual relationship was developed through multiple dates. So it could be seen that May, the protagonist, had the experience of both a very sexual and a sweet relationship. Yet she did not fit well into them, which is why she eventually killed her respective partners.

Other than the homosexual factor of the, there were other aspects of the film which make it interesting. One of the things that stuck to me was the use of the doll in a glass to portray the mental state of May. The doll in my opinion represents May, someone isolated from the world. And with every bad experience from the social world, the glass cracks, which shows how May’s state is also  experiencing its own cracks as well. In the scene where the glass and doll finally breaks, it could be seen that it was a defining turning point; at this point, May breaks as well. May finally cracks.

It was after this that most of the horror part of the film occurs. The fact that it happened only in the latter part of the movie shows how a horror film is not really supposed to be jump scares all the time. Sometimes the horror factor has to be built. The film shows how sometimes horror may come up when you least expect it.

Oh come what May…

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Amongst the lineup of films we have watched, it was May that I truly enjoyed the most. There was mix of comedy and horror plus the odd synopsis of the film that made me a little queasy but ultimately enjoyed the content. Psychological thrillers are my personal favourite sub-genre horror films. Whether its as if confusing and torturous as Psycho or a little lighter like May, it leaves me with a lasting expression filled with numerous conclusions.

May’s story involves a lot of anxiety and pressures present in society today. The need to be cool and accepted, the sexuality of a person, the ideal companionship, the definition of friendship and love, etc. It was showcased in such an unusual manner but definitely hit the right spots. When we are introduced to May, she was this awkward and introverted character that has a personal relationship to a doll. Though she was definitely talented and skilled, she did not have friends and a boyfriend. When a guy came to the picture and she felt amused by his presence, it was as if a new glow and excitement came to her that unfortunately prompted to her fate at the end of the film.

Sexuality continues to be a delicate issue present in society and with films as a medium to be able to express the challenges of such. Homosexuality, as once seen in society as a threat or disease to the norm. It was a challenge that needed and continues to be a battle to overcome in today’s world. Being gay or being labeled in any of the LGBTQ community created rifts in culture, in procreation, in gender roles and family values. It is as if members of these community are seen as monsters of society.

With May, her story did not really revolve around her sexuality but the longing of companionship whether it be with a male or female. Her obsession was to overcome loneliness and not to find love in itself. There are still those people who despite having everything in life, feel they are limited because of their social capability to be around others. Thus whether it is being in a heterosexual relationship or homosexual, it is a matter of simply being one with the other and belonging.

The end of the film was a thrill to watch, even if it was extremely disturbing. It shows how much she wants to be able to create the perfect friend or companion that would look at her for who she is and not simply use her for being a women or for sexual intercourse. May as you can say can be considered queer in nature. However, even using this to describe her feel as if I am degrading her worth. However, this is not the case. Even at the finale, I chose to sympathise with her because it is hard to keep up with the societal pressures in this day and age. Unfortunately, she lost herself in wanting something quite absurd and unreasonable. She has lost herself to achieving perfection, in perfecting the perfect companion.
My definition of the horror genre has truly changed, especially with this one. Fear need not always involve ghosts or supernatural beings, but fear can come from all forms present in our everyday life. More so fear can come from our own mysterious mind and what it is capable of doing.

May

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Many say that May was so disgusting that it would make their stomachs turn, but for me it was still Grace. I liked the movie for no particular reason, but for it being a horror movie. There was not much that interested me about it.

At first I thought it was going to be a movie where the doll would come to life and become sort of like an Anabelle doll. Although in the end, it was as if the doll did come to life, both in May and the one she created. The doll represents May in a sense that that was her sanity. The doll was what was keeping May from going insane. She was already a weird kid to begin with and you could imagine that she would constantly be bullied in school, but the doll would be her special friend who would take care of her. It was a doll she never really shared with anyone unless they asked the same way May would not open up to anyone unless they were really wiling to be with her. The more that May cracked, the more the case of the doll did too. By the end of the movie, the doll was completely disfigured just like the sanity of May.

May also has a power of the gaze. She has a lazy eye and you don’t know what she’s looking at. This adds strangeness to the movie because if you look at someone with lazy eyes, you don’t know whether where the person is looking at. Sometimes it gets distracting to look at those kinds of people. In the context of the movie, this is important because we don’t know what May could be thinking since we don’t know where she could be looking. Perhaps this also symbolizes her ulterior motives with people. She could be looking at one thing, but really looking at another. She can be saying one thing, but really thinking another. This can be seen whenever she would complement her friends on their physical appearances. On the one hand you can trust May in that she really does mean it when she complements you on a part of your body, but on the other hand she doesn’t just appreciate that part of you, she wants it for herself too.

The thing with May is that we’re shocked and disgusted with the things she’s done, but at the same time we feel a little sympathy for her. From the beginning we could see that she was a sweet little girl who had a difference with her physical appearance and, again, you can imagine that she got bullied for it. She was also well aware of how strange she was so you knew she had bad self-esteem. For her to be looked at by the man he likes is perhaps euphoria for her. In real life, we all act a little weird when we’re, sort of, stars struck with someone. The same goes for May. It’s just that in her case, since she had some mental issues, she would react in a completely unorthodox way. Instead of just mumbling or goofing up, she bit the lip of the guy and splatted the blood all over her body. When she also said that “but you like weird,” to her guy, this also showed that she had no notion of like when people say things but they don’t really mean it, but they say it to you to be polite or to make you feel better. She took it too literally.

At the last part of the movie, there was a part where she took her eyes off and gave it to her creation. The eye then falls to the ground rolling around, and the class beings to laugh. This was in a way strange because that scene should not have been funny. It was a scene about a disturbed woman who would go to lengths just to have a friend. She would even take her own eye off. Instead of getting disgusted with the scene, the class laughed. In this way, the movie evoked a horrific reaction from its audience.

One good thing about May is that she’s a good listener. For some reason, she’s the only one that can understand her boss. She’s also the only one that was able to make this one stubborn blind kid trust her. This goes to show that if May was just treated with care and respect, she probably would not have acted the way that she did.

 

May or may not

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The movie was about a girl who is narcissistic. She clearly only cares about herself because of how she conducts interactions with others.  The movie has an interesting point of view as a horror movie. Even the title of the movie was named after her. May’s character would definitely make anyone cringe because she is nothing but weird and awkward. As a horror movie character,weird and awkward is not really a bad thing, but May’s character goes beyond with her obsession with Adam. It could have been a result of bad parenting because of the traits that May exhibited during the course of the movie or some supernatural control of the doll named Suzie that influences the characters. More importantly,in the beginning of the film, her mother was very protective of her and wants full control on how May should behave as a little girl. At first, once could suspect that the doll was behind what was happening to May. But It was May by herself who had bad thoughts and intentions. It seemed that she was psychologically challenged as she was growing up.

May is an outstanding character as the story unfolds. As she tags along, another doll creeps out a person while sleeping on her bed. I thought that it would be the typical horror movie when a doll kills a person while one is sleeping. But as it turns out, May is the “creepy doll” I thought who commits these horrendous killings. I saw her actually harm and kill people. May’s behavior proved that she had violent tendencies which adds to her weirdness. As May works in the veterinary this may have boosted her violent interest on gory things in order to satisfy her morbid tendencies. Initially May had a disability, her lazy eyes. This could be the reason why she grew up not like the other kids. Maybe she sees herself differently because of her disability. She had other interests that most people would find very off and weird. Maybe that was one of the reasons why she was not able to fit in with other people. She seeks attention but would always present herself to others as someone very awkward and weird. Because of her monstrosity and thirst for revenge, her unique and abstract personality would develop for the worse.

To begin with, Adam found May’s awkwardness as a cute thing and took advantage of it to get to know her more. May only wanted a friend, but she had a little crush with Adam so she did everything to seek his attention. But then, Adam found her to be weird, so he felt threatened and annoyed. He then broke ties with May and realized that he was not able to fully get to know May. Adam was left thinking what could May possibly do to herself and people around her since she has weird tendencies. With their friendship over, Adam is somewhat concerned. The same sentiment goes with Polly’s concern with May. She got inclined and found May very interesting so she had desires of being friends with her and found her awkwardly cute. But due to the fact she had Ambrosia, May got hurt and that triggered her to be mad and frustrated with Polly as well.

All throughout the movie, I have my sympathy to May. I really do believe that Adam deserved to be punished for doing such thing for May, but I froze and turned speechless by how she slaughtered each person during Halloween. May is also obsessed and fixated with creatively abstract things, also probably manifested with the fascination with dolls. Her violent tendencies and amusement with these certain type of things led her to make a new friend and a new doll. The loss of Suzie affected her greatly that she got more insane sewing up the body part of the people she hated. In the end, it really saddened me when she realized that the doll she formed will never notice her. It was not alive and that would actually be a friend for her. May was in her weird and sad state of loneliness but she was happy for a moment knowing that she was finally able to create a kind of doll that met her standards.