Bug (11/9/12)

BugMovie Two Hundred Fifty Four

In Bug, after a woman is introduced to a friend during a night of hard partying, the two spiral into a world where they may be infested with bugs.

Agnes White (Ashley Judd) is a waitress living in a shoddy motel room, receiving strange phone calls from someone she believes to be her abusive ex, Jerry Gross (Harry Connick, Jr.). After a night of partying with her friend, RC (Lynn Collins), and Peter (Michael Shannon), a drifter, Agnes and Peter form a bond and together being to descend into delusion. One morning Peter wakes up claiming to have been bitten by bugs, aphids, specifically. He convinces Agnes of the bugs, among other things and the two become dependent on each other, each feeding into the madness together. When its discovered that Peter may be mentally ill, the line of reality and delusion becomes even fuzzier.

Bug is quite a mixed bag. On the one hand, every performance given is spectacular; Judd and Shannon, especially. Even if you have complete disinterest in the plot, it’s hard to look away when either character is on screen. Since most of the film takes place in a tiny hotel room, it makes their performances all the more huge. However, I found Bug to be almost completely nonsensical at times. Obviously, Bug is supposed to be schizophrenic but there is a line that needs to be drawn so that the plot still makes sense. When Judd or Shannon are ranting it’s easy to tune out and just watch them.

William Friedkin, who has given us many great movies over the years like The Exorcist and Sorcerer, does his best to make Bug an interesting affair. Though the set piece of the motel is small, there are a few tricks visually that make it seem unnatural, like black lighting outside under the eave, and the unusual green tint that permeates much of the film. We are taken for a wild ride through insanity and Bug doesn’t really let up, though it stumbles over itself at times.

In thinking what would have helped Bug be a better film, I’m honestly not sure. The performances were great, the story is ambiguous and gives a sense of insanity the main characters struggle though, and the setting is claustrophobic. Maybe that all makes Bug sound like a horror movie but I never thought to classify it as such, except maybe when Shannon is pulling out his teeth. It’s a film that tries not to be bound by genre and in doing so fails to really be anything. Bug is not a bad movie, just a sloppy one with great actors in it.

I give it 2 crazed Michael Shannon in blue light out of 5.


Rotten Tomatoes


27 responses to “Bug (11/9/12)

  1. I saw the names Ashley Judd and Michael Shannon and so clicked the post thinking it would be awesome, but damn, what a shame it’s not a fantastic movie. Though I do believe you when you say they gave great performances!

  2. Interesting – this is in my queue as it keeps popping up here in the movie community – sad to hear it doesn’t quite live up to what it could be but I’ll probably still check it out.

  3. Bug has been sitting on my shelf for some time now, although I haven’t yet watched it. I do like both Ashley Judd and Michael Shannon, but I guess I have to be in ‘the right mood’ to actually sit down and watch this one. I am real pleased you consider Sorcerer to be one of Friedkin’s greatest movies though. It is definitely one of my all-time faves. 🙂

    • I’m not sure what the right state of mind would be…Maybe if you were feeling particularly manic one day or something? It’s a weird movie that kind of messes with your brain.

      I watched Sorcerer too closely to Wages of Fear to truly appreciate it on its own, but now that some time has passed, I can look back on it much more fondly.

  4. I think the film played more like a parrallel to the strung out effects of drug addiction but never fully stated that – which would have made the whole film more coherent. Yeah, there’s something I liked about it and something I disliked about it, neither of which I can put my finger on. strange film.

    • I thought it was going to be about drugs rather than mental illness but I’m really not even sure Peter was mentally ill or if that was all just a delusion too. Things like that leave me unsatisfied.

  5. Despite the low rating you’ve given the film, I’ll probably watch anyway just to see the performance of Michael Shannon. I am a huge fan so I’ll have to see it for him alone. Great Review as always! 😀

  6. Sorry to hear that this didn’t do it for you Andy. I really enjoyed it. I love chamber pieces like this that look like they’ve just jumped straight off the stage. Towards the end it began to make less sense but I was still very impressed, I have to say.

  7. Pingback: My November Movies Round-Up | Andy Watches Movies

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