After creating a buzz on the festival circuit in 2002, "May" finally made its way to U.S. theaters and DVD in 2003 with little fanfare. Like "Dog Soldiers" and "Ginger Snaps," "May" wasn't commercial enough to justify a "Darkness Falls"-sized release. It's a shame, because "May" is the best film of the year thus far.
With an infinitesimal budget but an excellent Hollywood cast (obviously attracted by the screenplay), director Lucky McKee crafted an excellent character-driven psycho-play. The real credit for the film's success probably belongs to Bettis, a great actress who looks like she was born to play in horror. With a delicate, Barbara Steele-like demeanor, Bettis is probably best known for starring alongside Winona Ryder in "Girl Interrupted." But she also played the title role in the awful "Carrie" miniseries. She really shines as "May," a deeply disturbed 20-something trying to find love in Los Angeles.
May is obsessed with a creepy doll her mother gave her as a child. Naturally, she thinks the doll is alive and communicates with her via psychic force. When May meets good-looking Adam (Sisto), she falls madly in love -- particularly with his hands. She also runs into a hot lesbian (played by "Scary Movie" alum Anna Faris), and when her boy-relationship doesn't work out, turns to the other sex for solace. She becomes obsessed with her girlfriend's gorgeous neck.
When that relationship doesn't work out, she really starts to go mad -- and gets the idea that people as wholes aren't good. It's only certain parts of them that are perfect. May is also into stitching. It doesn't take a brain surgeon to see where this concept is going.
Horror films about psychos who piece together patchwork companions from human body parts are nothing new. (There was "Pieces," the original "House That Screamed," et al.) What is new is the concept of a good horror film that tackles the subject. "May" is actually a great film -- a true triumph of low-budget moviemaking.
It's unfortunate that "May" wasn't offered a wide theatrical release, but that's how unjust the system is these days. Some of the best horror films being made in the early '00s are heading straight to video. It will be interesting to see what else writer-director McKee will cook up for horror fans.