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MAY (2003) (***1/2)

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The buzz on this film has been building for a while. Some said it was the best horror film since HALLOWEEN. I wouldn’t go that far, but it is darn good. Most horror flicks these days go for cheap scares and gore. MAY has some gore, but what it has over films like JASON 6,256 is that it has solid characters.

Like Frankenstein’s monster, we care about May (Angela Bettis, GIRL, INTERRUPTED), because we can see a human being inside. May is a desperately lonely young woman who works at a pet hospital. She was rejected as a child and has had little luck making friends. She wears strange homemade clothes and has an infatuation with the gross nature of her job. More than anything May wants a friend and we hope things will turn around for her as we see her spiral out of control. She starts dating mechanic and wannabe filmmaker Adam (Jeremy Sisto, ANGEL EYES). He’s attracted to her because her weirdness is intriguing. Her co-worker Polly (Anna Faris, SCARY MOVIE), a lesbian, is also interested, but she soon starts to scare them.

The film really reminded me of last year’s DAHMER. These characters struggle with the same issues that everyone deals with, but something inside or something in their pasts have warped them from reacting in moral ways. A main part of the film’s success comes from the wonderful performance by Bettis. She completely becomes the character. I've always felt that acting awkward is one of the most difficult emotions to pull off. It either comes off as over the top or obvious. Bettis nails it, because she never stays self-conscious and allows the character to be herself with all her warts exposed. She is the kind of person who doesn't have a social compass that tells her what is an appropriate thing to say in certain situations. It's the kind of detail that works so well, because we have all met people like that, only May is probably (hopefully) a twisted step beyond our own experiences.

Writer/ director Lucky McKee (ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE) has a fresh style and knows how to balance the drama of the story with a bit of dark, campy humor. There’s a shot, at the end of the film, where someone washes their leg in the bathtub, that is sickly brilliant. Other than last year’s FRAILTY, this film is easily the best horror film I’ve seen since SCREAM.

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Rick DeMott
Animation World Network
Creator of Rick's Flicks Picks