Writer-director Lucky McKee's darkly clever notion that tragic hipsters doing their second-hand damnedest to be weird are thoroughly unprepared to handle someone who truly is weird gets bogged down in a listless narrative and one-dimensional characterizations. May Canady is ostracized as a child because she has an eye patch and a loony mother (Merle Kennedy). "If you can't find friends," Mom advises, her voice vibrating with brittle cheer, "make them." And so May's only friend is Susie, a pasty-faced display doll (look, but don't touch!) handmade by mom and creepy enough to join the PUPPETMASTER gang. Now in her 20s, veterinary assistant May (Angela Bettis, who managed a creditable reinterpretation of the title role in the 2002 CARRIE television remake) yearns for real friends and, despite her rudimentary social skills, manages to make a date with hunky mechanic Adam (Jeremy Sisto). Adam loves gross-out horror films he's even made his own, an amateurish, cannibal-lovers short. May thinks it's sweet, which would be Adam's first clue that he doesn't actually like weird girls as much as he likes the idea of weird girls were he not too dense to entertain a thought of such relative complexity. Inevitably, May's budding romance ends in bitter disappointment, as does her fling with co-worker Polly (Anna Faris), a silly lipstick lesbian whose prattle is filled with jokes about pussy... cats. May's failure to sustain a relationship, even with a real pussycat, leads her to act on her mother's fateful advice. The consequences are predictably bloody. Like the lumpen Adam, McKee is clearly a self-identified horror freak. But name-checking Italian horror icon Dario Argento and casting a lead who looks startlingly like his notoriously eccentric daughter, Asia, is fanboy idolatry, not filmmaking. McKee's debut film, co-written and -directed with Chris Sivertson, was an obscure, ultra-low budget, video zombie film called All Cheerleaders Die, by all accounts a glorified gore-hound home movie. This film is undoubtedly a great stride forward technically, but suggests that McKee still needs to learn some basic storytelling lessons. The talented Bettis works her heart out, but McKee apparently directed her to play May as a quivering crazy from the start. So while she pulls off an excellent transformation when May's madness has so warped her real personality that she can successfully mimic the inane rituals of small talk and flirting, she spends most of the film stuck in a twitchy, weepy rut.
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- Released: 2003
- Rating: R
- Review: Writer-director Lucky McKee's darkly clever notion that tragic hipsters doing their second-hand damnedest to be weird are thoroughly unprepared to handle someone who truly is weird gets bogged down in a listless narrative and one-dimensional characterizati… (more)