Mother May Eye
When May Canady's (Angela Bettis) Mom (Merle Kennedy) tells her painfully shy daughter "If you can't find a friend...make one" the wheels of psychological abuse and childhood abnormality begin to grind, forging a warped little waif of a girl with a mile-long revenge streak and a preordained outcome. It's evident from the get-go that nothing good will come from May's emotional scarring, but on the other hand, it's hard not to take a liking to her. How can you not feel a deep sympathy for a little girl with a birth defect who's the object of childhood ridicule?
Lucky McKee's May, a modern day retelling of Frankenstein, or better yet, an independent Silence of the Lambs, is a flawed little prize that somehow manages to mesmerize with its sound, intrigue with its visuals and numb with its ending. McKee's manipulation of the audience preys upon our innate sense of sympathy toward those less fortunate, or more appropriately, those who display shortcomings that kind of remind us of ourselves. We are all a little like May.
May grew up with a severely lazy eye that required her to wear an eye patch during her formative years. Now a shy young teenager working as a veterinary assistant, May's only source of friendship comes from a delicate doll enclosed within a glass box. May's emotionally asphyxiating mother gave her the doll with the specific instructions to never remove it from its case. Maybe her Mom was suggestively telling May never to let her own personality out of a box. Nonetheless, May is now a social misfit who can't make eye contact and can barely speak to anyone without mumbling or fidgeting uncontrollably.
We cheer for May as she musters the courage to direct her affection toward Adam Stubbs (Jeremy Sisto), a young auto body repairman whose hands she admires. His rejection of her advancements never seems to deter her from a seemingly predetermined mission of repudiation. In one scene, Adam exits his house to find May standing on his front porch staring at the door. When asked how long she had been standing there, she replies, "since two o' clock." Adam looks at his watch to notice that it is now four.
A production line of characters with "favorable" body parts begins to parade itself. May's fragile psyche is once again put to the test as she accepts the friendship and eventual sexual advances of Polly (Anna Farris), a co-worker with lesbian-like tendencies and a beautiful neck, only to discover that she is not Polly's only lover. Polly's companion is surprisingly not rejected by May but rather informed that she has beautiful "gams".
Since it's actually telegraphed early on and even hinted at by the film's tagline, May's little secret doesn't come as a surprise. Not to worry though. The fun of May comes from seeing the plot unfold and from watching Bettis ply her craft. Ingeniously funny moments segue into dark and twisted scenes as we watch May's deviant confidence build. Her desire for companionship is sad yet humorous -- and pitiful yet premeditated. Lucky McKee has found a way to make even the most seasoned horror veteran appreciate a bit of style over substance.
(Released by Lions Gate Films and rated "R" for strong violence/gore, some sexuality and language.)
Review also posted at www.franksreelreviews.com.