Friday, January 27, 2012

Film #91: May (2002)

The best way to make friends?
One stitch at a time.
At least according to May, the uber-nerd turned homicidal maniac namesake of this week’s film. 

May likes to take things literally. So when someone tells the desperately lonely girl-woman she should make friends, she takes to the sewing kit rather than the sewing circle – piecing together her ultimate friend one body part at a time.

See, according to May, people suck. Looking over a crowd of LA walkers, she pontificates “there are lots of perfect pieces, but no perfect wholes.”
While that statement might seem purely metaphorical, for May it is also literal. Everyone she meets has perfect pieces – her dreamy boyfriend has perfect hands, her sexed up co-worker the perfect neck. The saying goes that the whole is usually greater than the sum of its parts. 
But not in May’s mind.

Let’s back up here for a minute. May wasn’t always a body collector. 
She was once only semi-insane.
Born with a lazy eye and horrendously tormented as an eye-patched child, May grew up without a friend in the world. 

That is except for a beloved, ugly doll given to May as a present from her bizarre mother. Kept behind a glass case, May was forbidden from playing with the doll, and could only admire her from afar. 

This interaction with “friends” continued into May’s young adulthood. Eventually working at a veterinary hospital, May spends most of her adult time sewing up injured animals and making out with her glassed in doll. (Of course, how did YOU practice kissing?)

But then she meets Adam, the hunky mechanic who works across the street from the vet hospital. May’s never seen a set like Adam’s before… a set of hands! Geez, pervert, what did you think we were talking about? Silky, strong, manly hands that May wants to feel all over her.

Soul-crushing shyness keeps Olde Lazy-Eye away at first, but eventually May musters up the hootspa to ask Adam out on a date. And he says, gasp, yes! Swoooooooooon!

At first Adam finds May’s awkwardness attractive. “I love weird,” he tells May before showing her his blood splattered dark “art.” But when May bites down on his lip during a make-out session and smears the blood all over her body, Adam figures out that he doesn’t like “that much weird” after all.

Pair that episode with the screaming arguments May has with her doll, and Adam decides to dumps the weirdie. Too much weird indeed. 
May spirals into a depression upon the loss of not only her first love, but her first friend.

Slutty lesbian co-worker Polly (Anna Faris) tries to cheer May up, and does so with the help of her “perfect neck.” Again, May gets fixated on a body part not hidden behind underwear. What a freak!
Polly seduces the heart-broken May, who at this point just wants a warm non-doll body to show interest in her. 
But the next day May once again is spit-on when she finds Polly with another “hot piece of @$$ she couldn’t turn down.”

May is despondent, but thinks she’s found the answer to her friend problems when she volunteers to care for blind children. She has a lazy eye after all, and that is kinda blind!
But May’s vision of gaining self-esteem by caring for the blind is busted when the kids accidently destroy her ugly-only-friend doll during show, I mean feel, and tell. Talk about being blindsided!

While trying to piece back together her dolly, May gets an idea. Lots of perfect pieces, but no perfect wholes! If you can’t find a friend, make one!
And make it out of the perfect parts of all the imperfect people around you!

May develops a Frankenstein complex, and soon puts her flesh-sewing skills to work on something other than Fido and Mrs. Mittens. Former friends best watch their be-hinds… especially if it is a “perfect” one!

Will May ever find love?
Once a dork, always a dork?
Why is baby crap so many different colors?
Find out in the 2002 cult classic, “May.”

RDHP Ratings and Review

C-Rating: 4.8
Chris Dimick sews:
“Has a movie ever changed you? Left you speechless? Left you smiling for days? Good movies entertain. Great movies emotionally move you. And excellent movies, they change your view on life.

May is an excellent movie, and has changed my view of the modern American horror movie. For me 2000s American Horror had lost its bloody beating heart. When at once I thought it was lost, now I feel it is found. 
May is proof that even though there was an onslaught of piece-of-shit films diarrheaing out of this country in the 2000s, there were still people out there making original and inspired horror films.

Now this is why we do the RDHP.  Coming off the stinker that was “Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter,” May had a lot of work to do to restore my faith in the power of horror to blissfully entertain, emotionally move, and frightful induce squeamish chills. Luckily for me this film excelled in all those areas and more.

Not that I’m all that surprised. May’s reputation as a crowd pleaser preceded our viewing. Screened at the 2008 Music Box Massacre, May was one of the highlights of the event that had the crowd cheering and talking for hours (or so I heard, I missed that massacre in order to take part in my honeymoon with the freshly-minted Mrs. Dimick).

With that reputation preceding it, I knew we had to get May on the RDHP schedule. I’m so glad we did.
Massacre fans look for certain things in a movie… things one NEEDS in order to remain entertained while watching 24-hours worth of horror movies.

They want: shocking and sickening murder set pieces; kinky sex; original stories; charismatic characters; funny-yet-horrific plots.
May delivers on all these points. Ironically, the sum of May’s parts are not greater than its whole. 
Each piece of May works together to create a near perfect movie. 

Here are some of the highlights that days later are still buzzing through my brain and making me feel that special tingle of excitement that only an excellent movie can do.
Angela Bettis is remarkable as the mousey turned maniacal May. Her quirky mannerisms are obviously improvised, and her very physical performance make the viewer feel how nerdy and awkward May is. 
But through all the weirdness, Bettis makes May loveable and endearing. In fact, the viewer feels sorry for May until the final credits, even when she takes a turn into the darkness.

May is just so clueless that part of the horror of this movie stems from her awkward encounters. She is not socialized, and therefore doesn’t know how to act in standard social situations. 
For example, in one scene May calls Adam after weeks of not hearing from him. Adam’s behavior on the phone is obviously that of someone who just dumped you. But May just doesn’t get that Adam is done with her, and keeps pressing him for a date. 

It is painful, even horrific to watch, and at the end when May finally gets it, she explodes in a fit of a Hulk level anger toward her imaginary doll friend.

Bettis could carry the entire movie herself, but she doesn’t need to with cast mates like Jeremy Sisto playing boyfriend Adam and the always underrated Anna Faris playing co-worker Polly. 

Sisto plays Adam with a cool fairness that breaks the stereotypical “bro” character by giving Adam moments of tenderness and regret by the way he treats May. 
Almost stealing the movie is Faris, who plays the predatory lesbian co-worker of May with audacity and bravado usually only reserved for frat boys or date rapists.

The movie is a contradiction. It is bright and sunny with a beeping indie pop soundtrack. But this shine is just one paint coat deep, and underneath it the viewer can still see the grimy dark undercoat of the film painted in tones of loneliness, despair, and heartbreak. 
The film’s heart is quirky humor, but it is also jet black.

Like May’s impression of humanity, the film is also not perfect. The drastic switch May undergoes from wimpy, shy, desperate nobody to confident, strong, and focused killer is a stretch even when dealing with a character as unstable as May. 
A little more balance in May’s character at the end of the movie would have been welcome.

But you can look past this when examining the movie as a whole. I wish I would have seen this film earlier; it would have saved me a few years of thinking that modern American horror was washed up. Third time is the charm; it is also the proof that something isn’t a fluke. 

May is the third American produced film from the 2000s we have screened as part of the RDHP that I consider an “Excellent” film. Joining 2001’s “Session 9” and 2006’s “Altered,” the 2002 film “May” is in scream-inducing, heart-pounding, smile-causing company within the 2000s.
I’m sorry I doubted you 2000s. You were a great decade for American horror.”

N-Rating: 2.5
Nick Rich sews:
"I don't know how to feel about this film... much like I don't know how to feel about this picture:

I'd consider it... would you??
To quote Mark from the musical/film Rent 'that's a lie, that's a lie... I had a tea the other day...'. Well, not the tea bit, the lie bit. Did I just say I bit a lie? That doesn't make any sense... unless it was more than I could chew. Either way the above picture made me laugh. Out loud (and who really does that anymore, I mean, we say 'it made me lol' but how often do we really?). So I lied about relating this week's film (May) and the picture, saying I don't know how how to feel about them when I really did know how I felt about the magical picture... but not about May. Sorry about that.

What he said.

How did reading that make you feel? Confused? Wondering what was going to come next? Dreading it would be something you didn't want, yet feeling powerless to stop reading? Welcome... that's a bit how I felt during our viewing of May. This film really had a way of keeping you on the edge of discomfort, in my case it was due to the threat of impending freaky freaky deaky.

Awwwwww.... FREAK OUT!

You see, if there is one thing I've learned from the project, it's that I do not like kinky sex scenes... or any at all for that matter. In the vast majority of instances they're totally unnecessary and are merely a cheap trick used to 'engage' the audience. You know what I find engaging? A good story. Given me something to ponder or wrest, not something you think I'll want to salivate over (that's what my wife is for thank you very much!).

Movies throughout film history have done just fine conveying urgency, desire and passion without getting all sweaty on screen. In most cases this skillful navigation of the human tango has made a film that much better. My point is, I prefer allusion to inclusion... which is why May left me so on edge. Many times in this film it appears it is about to degrade into some weird/raunchy sexual scenario, which prompts my eyes to rolling (so much so that I nearly developed a lazy eye myself!), but at the last moment it would steer away. I can't recall a film (pardon the pun) flirting with showing sex scenes - but then not - more than was displayed in this film. Consequently I spent a good portion of the film wondering what was coming next, but not in a good way... instead I was left wondering if there would be something displayed which I had no desire to see.

Would it be worse if they were purring?

Add to this undercurrent of apprehension all of the other crazy uncomfortable-ness that is May and I had an experience which I truly didn't know how to feel about. At the end I was left stunned, feeling, well... I still can't really explain it... but I felt something.

Which is what films are supposed to make you do. Feel. Now, not all feelings a film induces are admirable... some make you feel sick, dirty and downright horrible. In those situations the viewer comes out poorer, not richer for the experience... but in the case of May... I felt an emotion that didn't have a label... it was transparent, yet touchable - like the invisible man.

Look Ma... no hands!

May left you feeling nothing in a very solid and resonant way. Which, while not outstanding, is oddly impressive.

The Skinny: Check this flick out if you've ever wondered where the women on Esty got their start or if you just need a friend."

Things We Learned from May:
-If you can't find a friend, make one.
-Wanna impress a lady-caller? Stab her with a fake knife.
-Have nothing to wear? Sew it yourself!
-Shirt making you hot? Put ice cubes on your nipples.
-Mel has a lazy eye… according to Nick.
-Smoking really is attractive.
-Blood + Milk = Puke.
-The more you talk to someone, the less they like you.
-Don’t ask for weird if you can’t handle weird.
-One can’t eat an entire finger in one bite.
-Lysol keeps dead bodies fresh.
-Chris can’t handle eye mutilation. Nick can’t handle teeth mutilation.
-When you have the whole place to yourself, you just gotta dance:

Quote of the Viewing:
[May and Polly have an innuendo-laden conversation that jogs Nick’s memory.]

May (to Polly): You have a really beautiful neck.
Polly (to May): Thank you, doll. Do you want to come over to my place tonight and… eat some melons?
Nick: Isn’t that what we said to each other when we first met, Chris?
Chris: “Yeah, it was something like that.”

RDHP Presents:
Our Frankenstein
May assembles her favorite parts from different people in order to create the perfect Franken-friend. With that horrific premise in mind, we offer just what parts we would require in order to build the perfect friend of the RDHP. Let’s break out the hacksaw and get to work! These limbs aren’t going to chop off themselves!

Hair: Weird Al Yankovic
Just like we likes our French fries, his hair is thick, curly, greasy… perfect.

Brain: Stephen Hawking
We don’t just want our friend to be smart. We want him to be “long division” and “card-counting” smart. Plus its win-win, we get a brain, Hawking gets a body. One that works.

Eyes: Random Kalamazoo Stripper
Since our creation is going to be half-dead, figure we need the empty, cold, half-dead eyes to go with it.

Face: Leatherface
Best part of using this dawg’s face part is if our creation doesn’t like his first face, he can just rip off the top layer to find another. And then another, and another, and…

Torso: Christina Hendricks
Doesn’t matter if we are building an man or a woman, they NEED a nice rack.

Heart: Dick Cheney
The former VP’s ticker is a complex cyborg model that is half man, half brass, and all antifreeze pumping cold.

Legs: Shaquille O’Neal
At 7’1, we figure Shaq’s gams would provide the sturdy support and balance a raving undead monster needs. They worked for Shaq after all, didn’t they?

Feet: Mariner from Waterworld
Because nothing turns on the ladies and gentlemen like extra flappin’ toe skin!

RDHP Salutes:
People with Crazy Eyes
May may have a lazy eye, but she sure knows how to work it. Below, other crazy eyed folk who could relate to this week’s movie heroine. Look below to see what we mean!  

Ray Charles

Cyrus from Harold and Kumar Escape Guantanamo Bay

Audrina Partridge

Crazy Eyes from Mr. Deeds

Zeus from No Holds Barred

These freaks:

RDHP Music Corner:
Doll Parts
Chris hates this song with all his heart, but will be the first to admit that it could have been the title soundtrack for May.

We asked readers to vote and determine the final film of the Rich-Dimick Horror Project – our 2011 selection. And the winner is…

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark!

Check back next week for our final review of the project, completing the goal of watching one horror movie from each year since 1920!

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