May is a movie that at times is funny, quirky, and awkward at moments. The movie plays around with the character of May and shows that through a character like her can exist the predatory male and female gazes.
The movie explores the habits that become ritualistic in nature and how they become both awkward and a source of horror. The movie initially played out the character of May as a semi-neurotic suffering from a mild case of OCD, to a certain degree, producing in her a host of some very awkward habits and social skills. Characters like May are interesting in the horror genre because they carry an atmosphere of paranoia and unease within their gaze already, a prominent male gaze trait, almost ironic given that May is female. Regardless, the character of May presents the case of a male type of gaze learning to use the female gaze.
The movie, in the earlier, more awkward parts, explores the idea of female aggressor in a relationship. As the movie shows, the female taking on the lead and pursuing a man is rather off putting to a certain degree. In a manner of speaking, we can see that May is herself part victim and part monster as well. The point where May begins to kill off people and harvest them for their parts which she deems perfect, she is, at that point, a culmination of the male and female gazes working in tandem. Her discrimination of the “beautiful” parts of other people proves that she possesses the female receptive gaze to look and accept things but her wanting to separate these beautiful parts from the rest which is not beautiful is the male gaze denying these as part of her reality. Her being characterized by the voracious nature of her “appetite” and the power by which she empowers herself to execute her tastes is what constitutes the final monster that May becomes.
One other thing, in relation to the awkwardness the movie conveys to the audience, is the language we use to pertain to the weird now. The weird, queer, and the horrible are now vague qualities in our language today. I say vague in that, as illustrated in the movie, the weird, at different times in the movie, is affirmed as either positive or negative qualities. This ambivalence of the language in the world is what lends the idea of blindness to the character of May, as parodied in her interactions with the blind children. This kind of blindness and general misunderstanding is likewise what qualifies into May’s own awkwardness in her moments of intimacy with the object of her affections like in not knowing what to do with her hands and not knowing where to place them. The blindness of not knowing where to place her hands is mirrored in the scene where Amy’s glass case is broken before the blind children and the children hurt themselves in the process of trying to locate Amy.
The blind children in a way represent the kind of people who are deprived of the normative sight and knowledge of society but are likewise still curious of it. To them there is a clear in present danger and us who are aware of the danger to them are often inclined to help because we are moved by our compassionate fear. It is this realization that May is inadequate and is effectively ‘blind’ as she is now that pushes her to take on the action of empowering herself with another kind of sight, a predatory sight.
One thing the movie focuses on is repetition taken as a form of a ritual. People with OCD, and to certain extent even normal people, often are compelled to repeat actions to establish a sense of security over their lives. People on the outside would often view these acts as ritualistic thinking and that there is an ascribed sense of meaning to most of these acts. The Ritual in the case of the horror film is a tool of security, a tool against the horrors, an exercise of recollection and an extremely inward looking gaze. Throughout the movie, May performs rituals and repetitions as a way of allaying her own personal anxieties from encountering her own horrors. The horror genre often in using a monster will often use a means by which to overcome the monster but, as May illustrates, at some point the monster’s own presence can overpower the method by which the monster is coped with initially. This then becomes a similar source of horror as we experience the slipping of power from us as the dynamics of power is lost.