by Josh McClellan
May isn't a horror movie. Well, it is, but it's just as much black comedy and
character portrait as an edge of your seat kill fest. Gorehounds might be disappointed
by the lack of truly violent moments, but even when things spiral in the third
act, May is more about character than kill.
May Dove Canady, when we meet her, is being fitted with a patch for her lazy eye.
As a little girl who doesn't relate well to others, she mistakenly scares off
friends by telling them she is not, in fact, a pirate. Her mother, an odd bird
herself, decides to remedy the situation by making a doll for May. But her owned
skewed sense of reality prevents May from even enjoying this when the doll can't
ever leave its glass case.
When we catch up with May later on in life (played by Angela Bettis), she's a
painfully lonely and withdrawn young woman with a crush on Adam (Jeremy Sisto),
and a job working at the local vet. When a chance encounter brings the possiblity
of something more, then things get complicated.
Now it sounds like I've told you a lot, but that's the first fifteen minutes of
the movie. Along the way we meet the coworker hot for May (Anna Faris of Scary
Movie and Lost in Translation), a punk with a tattoo she admires (James Duvall
of Donnie Darko) and a class full of blind children. If I'm being vague, well
I sort of need to be. Telling you too much, or even just regurgitating the back
of the DVD would give away where the movie goes (although an astute viewer can
pick it up pretty early on). What works in May is Angela Bettis. At no point during
her character arc does a decision seem out of place or unbelievable, and she's
a magnetic lead. Sisto doesn't fare as well; he's sort of a bore and doesn't have
much to do in the movie except react. Faris is in the same boat. She spends most
of the movie acting "come hither" to May, and by the end we're a little
surprised she's so relaxed by what's going on. Duvall doesn't actually have anything
to do, but it was nice to see Frank the Bunny in another movie.
Lucky McKee uses a lot of first time director tricks to keep the story going:
jump cuts, music montages, but in the context of playing things out through May's
point of view, it works. While it doesn't succeed on all fronts (for one, the
film takes itself far too seriously), he's managed to craft a fine little fable
and shows a lot of promise down the line.
That he's managed to wrangle horror icon Bruce Campbell into his second movie,
The Woods, is a pretty good indication that Lucky McKee has a solid future in
the world of low budget fright flicks. Don't get me wrong, this isn't an indictment
of an indication of his skills. Rather, I'm glad to see the new crop of horror
directors slowly build their reputations. While May, like Cabin Fever, isn't a
home run on the first try, it's better than a lot of the remakes and sequels that
pass for horror these days.