Even several weeks after watching the movie, I still cannot figure out whether I like the movie May very much. It was an extremely disturbing film, but had fascinating metaphors.
One comment before I get into anything else is that I find the way the film presents May’s mother as either ashamed or ashamed for May of her lazy eye makes the audience feel that her mother is largely for the way May grew up as an awkward loner, without friends. I find this unfair, because pushed the idea that mothers are solely responsible for a child’s upbringing and are to blame for a child’s shortcomings. Her father seemed to exist just in the background, and didn’t seem to offer any objections to what May’s mother was doing. Considering parenting is supposed to be an effort between both the mother and father (or mother and mother or father and father, or any other permutation out there), I find that if blame were ever to doled out, May’s father should receive his fair share as well.
May in all her undeniable weirdness wants friends more than anything else. Yet she is unable to, most like because of her disconcerting social skills. Her only friend is her doll, Suzie. This in itself is odd, but we soon see that her connection with this doll is way stranger than you’d expect. Talk to the doll, fine, I get that, but blaming the doll for telling her to do something? Bordering psychosis. In fact, the doll seems to symbolize the real May, or at least her state of mind. At the beginning, she is quiet, socially awkward, and repressed, but later in the movie, she begins to crack. I mean this in both senses of the word. Her “true” self, the one she seems to have projected to Suzie emerges after the class case shatters, and Suzie escapes into the world. To make the transformation even more apparent, May adapts the outfit of Suzie when she decides to hunt down the people around for their body parts. She becomes, well, mad. After all, what sane person would take the phrase of “making friends” as chopping people up to make a morbid human doll?
The doll, already creepy as hell by itself, was unforgettable and mildly traumatic, but it also came to mean the secret, repressed, side of May that when let loose would wreak havoc on everyone around. Just like clowns, glass dolls (especially those with big heads, porcelain white skin, and large eyes that look like they’re boring into your soul) will never be same again. I find that last thing about creepy old dolls to be the main reason why people find dolls especially disconcerting. Like the cliche mystery movie portrait with eyes that seem to follow you, you get the feeling that the doll is staring at you. Undeniably, there is power in looking, in the gaze, and normally, you, the person, the viewer, have the power, or should have, after all you’re looking at an inanimate object. While trying to examine something and apply the power of the gaze, you feel its nerve-wracking power on yourself. But with the way Suzie is made, it’s as if she looks back impassively, unflinching and defiant. She is able to gaze back, challenging you to keep looking. It is a battle you will never win, because the doll (it is just a doll after all) will never feel uncomfortable or waver. When it stares back, it is just you, the viewer, projecting the feeling of being examined to the doll.
Finally, I have a hard time figuring why, compared to other bloody slasher movies, the violence portrayed in May was especially disturbing. I personally don’t mind excessive violence in film, but I had to cringe with the class when May sliced Poly’s throat. Maybe because they are perpetuated by an eerie, doll-like girl? Maybe because, as a viewer, I already sympathized with her as the lonely protagonist. Or maybe it was because May coldly killed all those people not in anger, or out of revenge, but because she simply wanted a perfect friend? Obvious at the end, May is demented, but I kept thinking to myself, how could someone kill people out of a desire for friends?