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May, from rookie director Lucky McKee, is an emotionally draining story of a girl. Although there are horror elements present here, May is really an intricate character study. It’s the story of a girl who has never known the company of a friend, the boy she meets and the steps she takes to correct her life. Visually impressive and always compelling, May deserves to be seen by many more people now that it has found its way into the DVD world.

May

Movie
No review of this movie would be complete without mentioning Angela Bettis’ performance as the title character. Bettis deserves every ounce of credit she receives for her stunning performance in this film. She embodies every bit of material that makes a human an individual and succeeds in brining a new life to the screen. Angela is May for the duration of this film and is a big reason why the entire project works as well as it does.

May opens with a disturbing image. It is held for just a few seconds and then we are introduced to the younger version of May. May has a lazy eye and is made to wear a patch by her mother. Because of ridicule at school, May’s mother believes it’s best to give May a friend. This friend is a rather terrifying looking doll enclosed in a glass chamber.

Years later, we find May working at an animal clinic and it appears she’s not adapted well in life. Although her lazy eye is corrected, she’s been made to suffer for years on behalf of the insensitivity of others. Bettis works magic here showing May’s insecurities and truly makes the audience care for her before we even begin to learn about some of her real problems. At work, she is hit on by the sexy Polly, played nicely by Anna Faris (Scary Movie). Adam Stubbs, played by Jeremy Sisto (“Six Feet Under”, Suicide Kings), catches May’s eye. In particular, she finds his hands to be absolutely perfect.

As May and Adam’s relationship begins to blossom, we see more and more hints that things are not completely right with May. In a beautifully filmed scene, the couple begins to make love, only to be interrupted by May’s passion which leads her to bite Adams lip. Adam breaks things off after this bloody experience saying that May is just a little too weird for him. This event, along with rejection in many other forms, leads May into a downward spiral. The final twenty minutes of the film are a culmination of all the thoughts that have been brewing in May’s head, all the years of rejection and torment and of all the friends she wishes she could have made. It is a brutal and shocking fall that all ends in a way that will either leave you speechless or make you leave.

As mentioned before, Bettis is beyond excellent in this film. All the actors, though, bring credibility to their roles. The direction by Lucky McKee is great and shows much promise for the future. The music here is a mix of local Los Angeles punk and rock bands and eerie scoring. It is very effective. All of these elements, combined with a wonderfully captivating story, make May a supremely good horror entry that should have been given a wider cinematic release. Fortunately, though, Lions Gate has been kind enough to give us this DVD to love and cherish.

May

Video
May is presented in 1.85:1, 16x9 enhanced widescreen. The colors are sharp in this picture and the cinematography is the cause of some of the subdued tones. I didn’t find much notable edge enhancement. The transfer, however, seemed a little soft overall. Still, for a low budget, independent horror film that got only the most limited of releases, this is a good transfer.


Audio
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track doesn’t have much to do as this is mainly a dialogue driven movie. It does, however, work its magic when the soundtrack and score kick in. When the music is pounding the surround channels are working over time. Also, there is an extremely effective audio trick involving breaking glass that adds chills to several scenes.

May

Extras
Aside from a trailer (which I’ll leave to you to find), there are two commentary tracks. As commentaries are my favorite kind of extra, I was very happy with this aspect of the disc.

Commentary #1: This commentary has Lucky McKee (the director), Angela Bettis (the star), Steve Yedlin (the director of photography), Chris Siverstson (one of the editors), Bret Roberts (“Distraught Man”) and Nichole Hiltz (who plays Ambrosia). Yes, folks, this is quite a crowd for a commentary. However, it never seems like too many people are participating. Yedlin, the DP, never says much of anything and, unfortunately, Bettis does not talk too much. Nichole Hiltz shows up late and then talks nonstop for the remainder of the commentary. There is a lot of good information to be found and it seems the whole group has an excellent rapport. Because much of the same information is repeated in the second commentary (and the second commentary is free of Nichole Hiltz’s ditzy ramblings), I would recommend listening to that one first.

Commentary #2: On this commentary we have Lucky McKee once again, Jaye Barnes Luckett (music supervisor), Leslie Keel (production designer), Ryan Johnson (another of the editors) and Benji (the craft services food guy). This commentary manages to be the better of the two by providing much of the same quality information of the first and keeps things a little bit “lighter”. There are many stories told that send the entire group into hysterical belly laughs. Everyone contributes evenly on this track and there is some great information to be learned about the production of the film.

May

Overall
I truly hope more people take a chance and see this movie. It really is something a little more original that what we’ve seen as of late and its done so in a way that you know everyone involved genuinely loved working on the movie. Although this DVD isn’t stellar, it will most likely be the only one we ever get. I wish there were some behind-the-scenes features (or the deleted scenes they constantly refer to in the commentary). As it stands, we get an admirable video transfer and a decent audio mix. Pick this one up and enjoy it for what it is. After watching this movie, you’ll definitely be walking down the street looking at people in a different way… “I really like your neck”…


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