My Favorite Horror Movie – May (2002)

Jordan Peele recently said, “The best comedy and horror feel like they take place in reality.”

I have always been drawn to movies with uncomfortable realism. One of my favorite horror movies, May, set the tone for me at a young age. I was working at a video store when I was 17, renting movies after every shift. I found May on the New Release wall and took it home despite its misleading cover. At that time, I had seen nothing like it. Like many ’90s kids, I grew up with Halloween, Friday the 13th and even Phantasm. Amidst all their differences, they had a similar formula: plot, death, plot, death, plot, lots of death. May introduced me to this beautiful blend of dark comedy, uncomfortable social moments and interaction, all combined with cringeworthy horror. This is a movie about its protagonist, her need for human connection, her failure to do so, and her skewed response to that ineptitude. I think most of us have fantasized about inflicting some sort of pain on the people who have rejected us. May just took it one step further.

The movie starts with younger May, who is isolated by her lazy eye. What kind of advice does she get? “Do you want to make friends? Then keep it covered.” Her only companion and confidant growing up was a doll named Suzy that was kept inside of a glass case. Once May (Angela Bettis) becomes a young adult, she acquires corrective contacts that give her newfound confidence and entitlement.

May works at an animal hospital and notices Adam (Jeremy Sisto) on one of her breaks. Set to a soundtrack mostly of The Breeders, we watch as Adam smokes and how he uses his hands to smoke. This feeling intensifies as May falls in love with her favorite part of him. It’s refreshing to watch May be the pursuer, staging herself in his line of vision at a coffee shop and bumping into him on the street. He is the prey this time.

As Adam becomes intrigued with May, we watch an exchange where she describes the unsuccessful surgery of a large dog that was sewn back up with cat sutures. Unnerved, he still accepts an invitation for dinner and a movie at her house. But after her aggression and odd behavior fully develops, he begins to distance himself.

In his absence, her void strengthens and she begins to fill it with the company of her lesbian colleague, Polly (Anna Faris), and May’s fascination with Polly’s neck. “So many parts but no pretty wholes.” With each friendship, each disappointment, we find her abrasive personality being her strongest antagonist, a frustration she begins to take out on her doll, ultimately hurting the only ally she’s ever had. Now needing to replace her, May comes to an unforgettable conclusion: “If you can’t find a friend, make one.”

Directed by Lucky McKee, May is an extremely dark film that also provides levity during its most disturbing moments, an achievement that appears effortless and believable in this particularly difficult style of filmmaking. May is not an easy watch, as you’re constantly face to face with its characters during scenes of unsettling dialogue and desperation – a feeling that is all too relatable with anyone who has ever felt lonely or eager. This is a horror film that is so unique it can still make you squeamish without a relentless body count, making it a refreshing portrayal within the genre. May proves that terror can take place and erupt within the depths our own emotions of inadequacy.

About Kira Barker

Kira Barker lives in Des Moines, Iowa and grew up watching horror films as a young kid. She has a love for all films but the horror genre is especially sentimental to her. She loves discussing and learning about new ones. So reach out to her on Facebook or Twitter!

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