May has a long starting period of equilibrium filled with more horrifyingly awkward social situations than actual horror. The typical awkward-girl-hunky-yet-secretly-weird-guy paradigm goes on for about thirty minutes with only undertones of horror being felt, delivered mostly by the lingering gaze on the creepy doll of May. In fact, the horror was so hard to grasp initially that my seat mate was questioning whether May was going to become the monster or if it was her lesbian co-worker. As the movie progressed however, we saw May slowly transform from an awkward yet amusing and charming girl into a crazy monster hellbent on a bloody mission.
May is a horror film that approaches the role of the female gaze from a completely different angle. In most horror films, the female characters are portrayed as mostly helpless victims, subject to the powerfully domineering gaze of the males and monsters. May is initially a victim of the male gaze. She is non-threatening, seemingly weak, and pretty much putty in the hands of her newfound gore-loving boyfriend. In effect, she is not threatening at all. This all changes however once her doll breaks and her sanity along with it.
Her position from that of a helpless female immediately shifts to that of something resembling a position of a powerful male. May becomes fed up with constantly being the victim and decides that people aren’t worth her time anymore and that she is better off creating a “perfect person” using various perfect body parts of people she knows. Her gaze and actions become extremely male, even overpowering other males. She starts doing something that many males do, she objectified her victims by cutting them up into individual parts with her gaze. She identified the perfect torso, legs, neck, pelt (for the head? I don’t know that part was kind of weird), and finally hands to create her own Frankenstein-esque monster.
Throughout the stage of the movie when May is the most powerful character, even more powerful than any male she come up against, she is shown as completely in control and determined to fulfill her goal in a very masculine manner. This continues all the way until the very end of the movie when her monster does not “see” her and she believes that the only way to fix this is to give the monster her eye,which she believes is perfect. Once she starts approaching the mirror, scissors in hand to gouge out her eyeball, she returns to bring a female character. May’s masculine cold and efficient demeanor is replaced by crying and terror which becomes uncontrollable as she looks at herself in the mirror. It is at this point where we can see the gaze between the female and the monster. May confronts herself and stares on in horror, but does not look away. May’s gaze takes on a third stage here, a gaze of female power. She wrests control of the situation and looks on at herself as the monster in horror. Her crying stops a moment before she plunges the scissors into her own eyeball – she has gazed at the monster, herself, head on with a female gaze and what follows is the resulting punishment from staring at the monster.