A movie which divided critics, Bug is a horror movie that steps outside of the formula set by today’s horror flicks, going for a psychological route. As the movie progresses, we see the characters degenerate toward a hellish finale. It’s not what you expect. Even if you’ve seen the trailers or read a handful of reviews, this movie will truly catch you by surprise. And yes, that’s a good thing. Some people may not appreciate the approach this movie takes, but it’s the only real way this movie would have worked, and yes, it works wonderfully here. Not only does it keep you on the edge of your seat, but it also keeps you glued to the screen, for a host of reasons.
The film stars Ashley Judd as Agnes, a lonely waitress with a tragic past. Agnes rooms in a run-down motel, living in fear of her abusive, recently paroled ex-husband (Harry Connick, Jr.). But when Agnes begins a tentative romance with Peter (Michael Shannon), an eccentric, nervous drifter, she starts to feel hopeful again…until the first bugs arrive. Probing the blurry lines between paranoia and nightmarish reality, Bug is an intense, mind-bending psychological thriller in which nothing is quite as it seems
You have to invest yourself in this movie. From the start, it becomes fairly obvious that the movie will slowly build toward a gripping finale. As the movie starts, we get a brief glimpse of the future, a dead body. Then, once we pass the opening credits, the story unfolds. It unfolds essentially as the synopsis above states. We’re introduced to Ashley Judd’s character, and it rolls on from there. It’s a life of loneliness, desolation, and fear. And it gets worse from there. Sure, there’s a moment or two when it seems like Agnes, Judd’s character, is about to find some happiness, but all of that starts to slip away.
If tehre’s one thing this movie does well, it’s trying to convince us of two things at the same time. It’s trying to convince us that both Peter, played by Michael Shannon, is both crazy and sane. At the same time. We want to believe him, that these “bugs” are real, but at the same time, we want them to be safe. More importantly, after all the bad that Judd’s character has been subjected to, we want her to have a happy ending. We want her to find some justice for all the injustices thrown her way. And, as you can tell, even by watching the trailer, things don’t go that way. What happens is that, and very quickly, things take a turn for a worse. After Agnes and Peter share a nice of intimacy together, things take a horrible turn for the worse. And it is . . . tense. And yes, that dead body we get a glimpse of in the opening credits does actually play a vital part of the film.
Once the “bugs” start to arrive, and start to consume the lives of the two main characters, you better hold onto your seat. There are moments that are shocking, bolstered by the stunning acting. If you’re expecting a horror movie like Saw, or what have you, then turn away. While there’s a very graphic tooth extraction, this movie is more physiological, it’s more about what you see with your eyes, and what you want to believe. It’s about how you can see or hear something if you believe it’s there, regardless of whether it is or not. And this film just amps it up considerably toward a stunning finale. The ending is just a gut-buster. It’s one you hope won’t happen, but it does. And then, as you ponder, you realize it’s the only way the movie could have ended. And all of this is driven by the spectacular directing of William Friedkin.
It’s a movie that, yes, does take a little while to get going. However, the back stories of all these characters must be established to make the third act all the more palpable and believable. While not every role is a really fleshed out, such as Connick Jr’s clichéd abusive ex-husband, it does give Judd’s Agnes the drive to run into the arms of this new man, and the resulting chaos that ensues. And yes, there are instances that, even in the finale, make you wonder if Peter really is who he says, if it’s fake, or, if it could possibly be real. It’s all about what you see, and putting the pieces together. Believe me, there’s much more to Bug than you may think.
The DVD itself comes with a standard collection of extras. The audio and visual seem to be top-notch for a standard DVD release. The DVDs extras include a commentary with director William Friedkin, a featurette on the movie, and another featurette focusing on Friedkin. It’s a nice, but small, collection of extras that serve to compliment the movie well.
Overall, personally, I would Recommend this movie. Bug easily stands outside the rest in recent horror offerings. It challenges the viewer, forcing them to decide whether or not they believe that what’s happening is real, or an unfortunate delusion. Either way, you’ll find yourself hooked as the movie unravels toward a rather stunning and tense finale. Bug will make you question what you see on screen, all of which is bolstered by the great performances and great directing skill of Friedkin. It’s a great, psychological film, one that will definitely leave you glued as it charges toward the breathless final minutes.
Bug is now available on DVD. Bug is released through Maple Pictures in Canada and Lionsgate in the United States.