May (2002)

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Released 24-Feb-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-Director, Cast and Crew
Audio Commentary-Director and Crew
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Elvira's Haunted Hills, Secretary
Gallery-Photo-14
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 89:55
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Lucky McKee
Studio
Distributor
2 Loop Films
Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Angela Bettis
Jeremy Sisto
Anna Faris
Nichole Hiltz
Case ?
RPI $17.50 Music Jaye Barnes-Luckett


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    May is a quirky film, which I suspect did not get a theatrical release in Australia, that is nevertheless certain to attract a loyal following in the years to come. The somewhat off-kilter story and the early appearances of actors who are quite likely to go on to greater things have "cult" written all over them. First-time director Lucky McKee is sure to be given bigger and better funded projects in the future, after this very well handled writing/directing big-screen debut.

    Whilst May is commonly touted as a horror film, I do not think that this is the case. It is rather an arty character study, which takes a trip down horror lane in a fairly black-comedic manner towards the end of the piece. Those expecting big chills and outright frights will be disappointed by May. To me, it was reminiscent of Donnie Darko in mood (but it does not reach those lofty standards by any means), in that it deals with the life of a main character who inhabits a world which almost exists in parallel to our own, but is somehow not quite the same.

    May (Angela Bettis, Girl, Interrupted) is a girl with a lazy eye and a rather obsessive mother. Forced to wear a pirate-style eye-patch through her young life, she finds herself ostracised by her schoolmates. Understandably, she creates surrogate friends from her collection of dolls - including the creepy Suzy permanently entombed in her glass display case. In a sure sign of troubled times ahead, her dolls are viciously transformed into a collection of limbs and beheaded torsos...

    As May becomes a young woman, she begins a career as a veterinary nurse. Desperately seeking friends, love and acceptance, her attempts to develop an adult relationship lead her to explore the lesbian delights of her co-worker Polly (Anna Faris, Scary Movie) and the more traditional romance of mechanic Adam (Jeremy Sisto, Clueless). Unfortunately, May turns out to be just a little too weird for Adam and she is soon dumped by him. When Polly also finds an alternative lover in the leggy Ambrosia (Nichole Hiltz), May decides that her mother was right after all "If you can't find a friend, make one..."

    May is a creditable first feature from Lucky McKee. The screenplay is quite novel but is obviously influenced by a number of other films (Carrie, Frankenstein and Red Dragon spring to mind). The young cast put in strong performances, but the story overall does not deliver as much suspense or as many chills as I was expecting. Horror? Not really. A warped, black-comedic character study with a twist? Certainly. As I mentioned at the start, this film bodes well for greater things to come from all concerned, but as it stands this is simply a quirky oddity with a slightly film-student feel. Worth a rental for fans of Donnie Darko or other "new millennium" horror (esque) films.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality of this transfer is generally very good, particularly for a low-budget film. It is presented 16x9 enhanced in a ratio of 1.85:1, which is the original theatrical aspect ratio.

    The overall transfer is satisfyingly sharp in the foreground, with significantly less detail evident in the backgrounds. Grain is not a major distraction, even in brightly lit backgrounds such as sky shots.

    Black levels are deep and solid, with an acceptable level of shadow detail evident. I felt that the picture was a little on the dark side overall, and some scenes could have benefited from brighter lighting - but I am sure this was a choice on the part of the director to provide a suitable tone to the film. Low level noise was not a problem. The colours in the film provide a deeply saturated palette of reds, greens and browns. They add to the sombre, rather gloomy tone of the cinematography, which features an intriguing range of shots with plenty of close-ups and detail shots. There is no colour bleeding. Skin tones look just fine throughout.

    I noticed no significant MPEG artefacts. Edge enhancement was never really evident. Aliasing, too, is mercifully rare and when present is extremely minor (for instance on the striped T-shirt at 1:17, the wall at 26:06 or the books at 29:56). Telecine wobble was not noticed as a concern.

    The transfer does suffer from a few minor film artefacts in the form of white specks and black scratches. They are always fleeting and never become annoying.

    There are no subtitles available.

    This disc is single sided and dual layered (RSDL formatted), with the brief layer change evident at 65:34, and whilst it is noticeable, it is well placed at a quiet scene transition.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The overall audio transfer is technically fine, with no dropouts or hiss noticed, but is not overly impressive.

    The main Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is encoded at 448 kbps. There is also a Dolby Digital 2.0 (stereo) track available (encoded at 224 kbps), which I sampled briefly and found to be perfectly serviceable given the nature of this film. The audio transfer is free from major defects at all times, with no clicks, pops or dropouts noticed. Dialogue was always clear and is never overpowered by the relatively subdued musical score. The audio sync was perfect throughout.

    The original music is credited to film newcomer Jaye Barnes-Luckett. She does a great job in providing a selection of hip musical numbers to complement the surreal feel of the picture, and some suitably tense pieces for the creepier moments in the film. She certainly seems to be a very accomplished composer and musician.

    The soundstage is very frontal, with the front speakers providing clear dialogue and some subtle panning effects (for example with cars driving across the screen). The surround speakers are generally lightly used to provide some support for the musical score and some minor surround ambience. With the possible exception of the glass stress-cracking effects, this is not an audio transfer to impress your friends with the benefits of surround sound, but it is perfectly serviceable.

    The subwoofer is frequently inactive but does kick in very occasionally to add some low frequency effects (for example when Suzie first appears at 2:25).

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are some significant extras present in the form of two audio commentary tracks.

Menu

    The main menu is an animated picture of May accompanied by the musical score and allows the options of playing the feature, selecting one of sixteen chapter stops, audio set-up or viewing the extra features:

Audio Commentary 1

    Lucky McKee, Angela Bettis and cinematographer Steve Yedlin amongst others provide a fairly interesting and entertaining commentary track. It is generally scene specific, informative and good natured. Worth a listen for fans of the film.

Audio Commentary 2

    This one is slightly more technical, and yet remains very light hearted throughout. McKee is joined by composer Jaye Barnes-Luckett, production designer Lesley Keel and a rather humorous Benji (the caterer) amongst others to provide further insight into the film. Once again this is worth a listen for fans - probably more so than the first track.

Trailer

    Running for 1:43, this is presented at 1.85:1 with an audio track in Dolby Digital 2.0 encoded at 192 kbps.

Photo Gallery

    Fourteen pictures from the film, largely focusing on May unsurprisingly.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The extras on the Region 1 version of this DVD appear to be very similar to our own, but the photo gallery seems to be missing. The Region 2 version misses out on the two audio commentary tracks. I would suggest renting before you buy, but for purchase the Region 4 version (assuming our sell-through is the same as this rental release) would appear to be the version of choice.

Summary

    May is a quirky cult film in the making. The horror elements are not strong and there is very little in the way of shocks or scares until the final reel. As a character study of a young, confused loner it makes quite interesting viewing. It is arty, stylish and quite entertaining, but will appeal to a fairly limited audience. Worth a rental for those who like creepy characters with twisted alternate realities. Fans of Donnie Darko will probably find something to appreciate here.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio transfer is serviceable, with an eclectic musical score.

    The extras are substantial for a rental product and the audio commentaries are worth a listen.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel O'Donoghue (You think my bio is funny? Funny how?)
Wednesday, October 08, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDHarmony DVD Video/Audio PAL Progressive, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic TX-47P500H 47" Widescreen RPTV. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR600 with DD-EX and DTS-ES
SpeakersJensenSPX-9 fronts, Jensen SPX-13 Centre, Jensen SPX-5 surrounds, Jensen SPX-17 subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Anna Faris in Scream?? - Anton C (same bio as Antony C, same person, lost details for first account.) REPLY POSTED
Unskippable ads at beginning - Quizo69 REPLY POSTED