I love October. It isn’t just the change in the weather, the turning of the leaves, and the sudden availability of pumpkin-flavored baked goods. No, for me, October is time for horror movies. Part of my TIVO ritual, back when I still bothered with such things as DVRs and cable television, was cuing up all the horror movies I could find. Some of the cable networks cranked out a lot of good old stuff. If the pickings were slim, I had Netflix for rentals, without which I would have never seen such classics as Peeping Tom, the deliriously creepy Don’t Look Now, much of Dario Argento’s work, or Lucio Fulcci’s zombie mayhem.
Nowadays, I make do with Netflix on demand. Much easier, and I can get my horror fix when I want it.
This month, I’m taking the time to highlight a few of my favorite horror movies.
Up first, May (2002) by Lucky McKee.
Now, I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve never seen this. It was a little indie film with no huge names and made for about half-a-million which is nothing by Hollywood standards. That piece of shit My Soul to Take which is in theaters now cost 30 times that. Yeah. 15 million, and it sucks harder than a Dyson industrial vacuum. May stars Angela Bettis as our title character, it also boasts Jeremy Sisto and Anna Faris.
There is a lot on the shoulders of the young Angela and she nails it. She had been kicking around the industry for about 9 years when this came out, and May Dove Canady is a tough sell – a sympathetic sociopath who desperately wants to connect but just can’t, due in part to a lazy eye that forever sets her apart from childhood on. Her mother’s advice of “If you can’t find friends, make them,” leads to her having a china doll as a best friend. But even then, the doll is kept within a glass case, out of touch. When new corrective lenses are prescribed to correct her lazy eye, May can finally enter into the social dance that so many of us take for granted. She falls for a local mechanic (played by Sisto), who has beautiful hands. She stalks him, then wins him, however briefly, despite being “weird.” While the mechanic likes weird, he has no idea how deep that rabbit hole goes. And when he disengages, forcing May back into a social isolation, the thin veneer of a normal life begins to crack…
…with disastrous, and because it’s a horror movie, bloody results.
I’d like to be clear that I don’t like slasher films. And while, from a distance, May could seem like a slasher film, I found it to be something else entirely. For one, we are given no one to really identify with except our titular slasher. We sympathize with her to such an extent that by the time she picks up the knife, it’s easy (although unpalatable) to root for her. This isn’t paced like a typical slasher movie either – no death every 10 minutes. May presents a psychological study, with screws tightening until the subject snaps under the pressure. Uncomfortable to watch at times, and one bit towards the end is particularly cringe-worthy if you have a problem with pointy things and eyes. Thankfully you’ll see that coming a mile away.
Highly recommended, and worth seeking out if you’re looking for a scary, character-driven piece of indie brilliance.