I remember May from my high school days. I didn’t see it in the cinema, but my classmates had a copy and we saw parts of it. We watched the part where she gouges out her eye and when she murders the punk guy. I remember not really wanting to watch it because it was rather gory for me. And well, I was right, it was a rather gory movie, and equally creepy.
Most horror movies have a protagonist or at least a character that you can relate to, that you can empathize with. May doesn’t really have that. May is the protagonist, but she is the monster as well. It’s established from the very beginning that she is an Other, not simply because she’s a woman but because of her strangeness. She seems to get her strangeness from her mother, who may not be as twisted as May, but is somehow getting there. At first, you feel sorry for May and perhaps even relate to her as the quirky girl, but May eventually drifts further and further away from you as she slowly transforms from an awkward girl to a murderous psychopath. May is an Other that we can initially relate to, especially since she’s the protagonist, but eventually, she becomes so strange that even we have to turn her away. We relate to May’s longing to be accepted, but we are unable to accept the lengths she goes to just to gain a friend. May becomes a person we do not want to be friends with at all, and so we shun her as well.
When you look at May and the things she wants to do, it’s all basic human needs. We all have the need to be accepted and the need for belongingness. However, so-called normal people usually lower their expectations and attempt to be more “normal” or fit more into the standards of others, in a way “othering” themselves in an attempt to belong. May does something contrary to this. Instead of giving in, she continues to demand more from the people around her, she refuses to settle for anything less. May didn’t want anything less than perfection, and this made her monstrous. In wanting to find and create the perfect friend or companion, May became a monster. No one was good enough for her, and now everyone was in danger because none could please her. May’s standards of perfection were impossible, and she is unable to comprehend the fact that others had standards too. Others weren’t really allowed to exist in May’s world as themselves, but rather as imperfect parts that have to be put together in order to create the perfect creature.
May indeed is a horror movie in that it causes horror in the viewer. Her actions are horrific, and what makes them even more horrific are her motives behind them. May does not see herself as doing something wrong, rather she believes that she is doing something right, and even that she is fixing something. But unlike villains and antagonists of typical stories, May’s reasons for wanting to “fix” things are purely personal. She isn’t really trying to clean up the world in her own twisted way. She couldn’t care less about other people or the world in general, so long as she gets what she needs in the form of a friend or a lover.