May starts off with an air of creepiness perfectly constructed by the many faces of dolls. They eerily watch you as the film introduces its heroine, May Kennedy. What’s ironic is that Linda Williams’ reading “When the Woman Looks” focuses on the strength of the man’s gaze, but this opening sequence has no man, or person for that matter, yet there is so much power of the gaze to the dolls. They are the silent objects that establish that May is certainly not normal, and perhaps the most important icon throughout the film, after the “master doll” Amy.
May is a quirky yet loveable veterinarian who suffers from intense loneliness. Although the film doesn’t dwell much on the source of her loneliness, it reveals that it has caused her to obsessively collect dolls and even regard one as her best friend. She goes to extreme and borderline-stalkerish measures to achieve attention from the broody, yet handsome, Adam- who she has never met, but often passes by while on her lunch break. The film is generally slow-paced, focusing heavily on character development, but leaving all of its excitement for the last fifteen minutes in the form of a psychological slasher-flick. If you haven’t already guessed it, she kills everyone who ever hurt her and makes a new best friend out of all their perfect body parts.
My problem with May, however, is the abundance of plot holes. There are so many questions about the source of her loneliness, her knowledge of Adam, and even her soft spot for blind kids, but no answers. I somewhat wish that the film had spent a little bit more time establishing the source of her problems rather than throwing the audience right into them.
In her article “Horror and the Monstrous Feminine,” Barbara Creed states
“Although the specific nature of the border changes from film to film, the function of the monstrous remains the same – to bring about an encounter between the symbolic order and that which threatens its stability.”
She then follows with naming four different examples of instability in symbolic order where the monstrous can be found, three of which can also be found prominently in May. First, the border between human and inhuman and the border between normal and the supernatural can both be challenged by the creation of Amy with the mutilated body parts- it is made up of humans, but is not human in itself, and also supernaturally comes to life at the end of the film; and the border which separates normal and abnormal sexual desire, witnessed in May’s masochistic fetishes and also her confused gender preference. May creates the monstrous in almost every aspect of the film, making it a perfect example for Creed’s article.