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2002's May by Lucky McKee is a movie that will always stay engraved in my mind. From its bizarre story to the haunting characters portrayed by a good set of actors and actresses alike. The movie surrounds a young girl who's born with a defect that left her troubled all her growing years. As a child, she's gifted with a doll. As an adult, she still has had trouble forming a friendship of any kind; having the doll by her side all these years as her only companion.
The events of the movie unfold in a very eerie manner that don't necessarily scare you, but instead, leaves you with an unsettling discomfort in the pit of your stomach.
I first watched this movie when I was five years old. My sisters rented it some time after its initial DVD release date back in 2003. I had no idea what to expect of it, all I saw on the cover was a weird woman with green-ish skin with scissors around her in a yellow aura. From there, I don’t remember how I felt about the movie.
Growing up, I never really remembered the movie. I did have random memories of a guy telling a girl he’s a psycho, and stabbing her with a fake knife quite often. I also remember seeing shards of glass on the floor, and people dropping on their knees, then screams of pain. I always assumed I was going insane, so I didn’t think much of it.
But then some time a few months ago (Oct. 2018) I suddenly remembered this movie of a girl who just wanted to be seen. The words “see me” always popped into my head, and I never thought to try to understand why. It wasn’t until I asked one of my sisters if there was a movie called May. She confirmed there was, so I looked into buying a digital copy.
Re-watching the movie as an adult was a strange experience, to say the least.
May, as a whole, is bizarre and endearing. Everything you’re watching is from her perspective. The kills themselves are minimal and bland, the body count is pretty low, but she has a very depressing motive.
As a child, her mother told her, “If you can’t find a friend, make one.” May never did find one, so she went out to make one.
The movie gives you little hints as to how the movie goes down right from the very beginning. The word doll is thrown around a lot, May says words of affection to Adam, while her focus is on his hands, she typically likes specific body parts on someone, “So many pretty parts, not pretty wholes,” and the sound of glass cracking when May starts losing it little by little.
There are many parts in this movie that could be taken as the start of the movie turning darker (opening scene counts), but in my opinion, the point of that is when she’s talking about the dog she once performed surgery on that wound up dying at home. The way she talks about it like it’s a normal Tuesday with a huge smile on her face is almost comical. It’s when you see the too-happy gleam in her eyes that throws you off guard. Either that scene, or the one with the blind daycare kids, where May takes her doll and the glass box breaks. I can see why I didn’t remember that scene as a kid. Scarred me so bad watching it all over again.
Although, the biggest turning point is when she and her new friend, Blank, are chilling at her apartment (“Do you have any ice cubes I can rub on my nipples?” is probably my favorite line in this scene), and he finds the dead cat in the freezer.
May had previously complimented his arms before him finding the cat. When he calls her a freak, she loses any self-control she had, and stabs him in the head. Once she processes what she’s done, she’s calm again, and says “I need more parts.” And that’s exactly what she does.
Here is where the most obvious shift is, and I actually love it. From her perspective, she’s simply gaining parts for a friend (Polly’s neck, Ambrosia’s legs, Blank’s arms and torso, and Adam’s hands); but her whole demeanor changes. Her voice is deeper, she’s a lot more bold, and she’s personifying herself as her doll. A real life version of Suzie.
It’s not until after the doll is complete that she realizes it’s still just a doll. It can’t see her how she wants to be seen. It hits her that no matter how hard she tries to make someone see her for who she is, they never can. So in a final attempt to be seen, she gouges her lazy eye out, and puts it on the doll, begging for it to see her. As she’s slipping into unconsciousness, the doll’s arm comes up to her face, and caresses it very gently.
In short, what I got from it was a story of a girl who was victimized for her lazy eye (obviously nothing big, but her mom didn’t help at all), and grew up with so many insecurities, and has had a hard time maintaining a social life because of it. There’s so much more to this movie than a slasher film. It’s about a girl who just wants to be seen. She wants to be noticed, and not have to worry about them just leaving her. This movie was made ahead of its time, in my opinion, and needs to be watched by more people. Nowadays, there are so many movies that depend on loud sounds for a jump scare, and over the top special effects. May doesn’t.
May is an excellent example of how a perfect horror movie should be done.